AT&T Decides It Doesn’t Have To Bully Small Business Owner Over $1.15M After All

After the media got ahold of the story of AT&T suing a small business owner over $900,000 worth of fraudulent phone calls, for a total of $1.15 million including fees, it seems the telecom giant is willing to back down. The company issued a statement saying it will abandon the lawsuit against the president of the small manufacturing firm. There’s one condition, claims the man — he must drop his countersuit as well.

“We’re sympathetic to the situation and under these circumstances we’ve decided to not pursue the claims,” the company said in a statement, without responding to the man’s claim that he would have to drop his suit.

He’s suing the company for trying to make him pay for calls to Somalia that he says they know he didn’t make, but were the result of phone hackers dialing in to his business’ system.

“What the AT&T media statement said and what they told our attorney is not the same,” the man said, according to the Boston Globe. “They’re willing to drop the claim if we drop ours.”

His lawyer said in a statement that it’s not as easy as just dropping everything, in light of the ordeal her client has been through. He has spent around $30,000 already on legal fees and was worried he’d have to fire his 14 employees.

“This has been a long, expensive, and frightening process for my client,” his attorney said, “and he needs time to consider AT&T’s offer.”

*Thanks for the tip, Jon!

AT&T may drop suit vs. small Ipswich company [Boston Globe]

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    If he’s confident he will prevail, then let both lawsuits proceed and he will eventually come out ahead.

    • huadpe says:

      Even if he would prevail at trial, it can be ruinously expensive to do so. If you can’t float the legal fees for years before AT&T has to pay them, you’re in a tough spot. Also, the stress of litigation may just not be worth it.

  2. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    So, the guy is most likely willing to drop the counter suit. His lawyer is like…WTF, who is going to pay me now. Really, $30,000 for a lawsuit that never happened…would love to see the itemized bill for that charge. I’m sure his lawyer went all in expecting great publicity and a huge payday for himself and is now left with nada (no whammy, no whammy, no whammy…damn).

    • buddyedgewood says:

      I didn’t see anything about the lawyer representing this guy pro-bono or on contingency. So don’t worry, his lawyer will still get paid no matter what, even if he has to obtain a court ordered lien on the guy and his business.

  3. NorthAlabama says:

    he needs to go for it, if he can afford to stick it out, including appeals. he has a great likelyhood of winning this one.

  4. sparc says:

    I wouldn’t call AT&T bullying since the business owner is the one who didn’t secure their phone system.

    He should be thankful they’re willing to drop the case entirely and he’ll only be out legal fees.

    • sparc says:

      and just for a refresher that this is not just some simple home phone system, i’ll repost the previous article info:

      “His business, which makes equipment and supplies for machine shops, uses a private telephone network system called PBX with eight lines. A hacker could potentially gain access by dialing the company and then entering access codes until they get in, allowing them to then place calls anywhere.”

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      I think it is erronous to state that he did not secure the system. The question would be whether he secured it sufficiently, because there’s a reasonable limit to how much you can be expected to do to secure such things. There’s no such thing as un-hackable.

  5. Extended-Warranty says:

    $30,000 in legal fees? I wonder which is more expensive per minute. The calls to Somalia, or a call to the lawyer?

  6. Bruce W says:

    Let the attorney finance the litigation. After all he stands to get $30,000 in fees!

  7. ZachPA says:

    And thus is illustrated why the small-time consumer and/or business owner rarely stands a chance against the mega-corporate-conglomerate. AT&T has more attorneys on payroll than this guy has ever had customers. Those attorneys get paid whether or not AT&T is suing the OP, and yet that poor schmuck has to cough up $30k for his attorney.

    I seriously hope AT&T’s offer includes the costs of legal representation for the OP.

  8. frodolives35 says:

    I wonder if these were 900 types of calls or if the hack was passed out to people making voice calls. ATT is long past due to place billing holds on fraud calls to 900 type of companies. Their billing model of pay the crooks then collect from the victim is so outdated and seems to be a big part of the problem.

  9. Bob says:

    My advice: Drop the counter-suit when AT&T drops their suit. All parties will come out ahead except for the lawyers.

  10. T. Bone says:

    AT&T sucks!!