AT&T Penalized for Something we all Do

Here’s what Ronn Torossian had to say about a “mistake” that may cost AT&T tens of millions of dollars, “If you got to this article via social media, you’ve done it. If you have wireless internet or use a smartphone or just about any app for any purpose, you’ve done it too. You know, peripherally, this choice could burn you, but you have become desensitized to it…”

Torossian is talking, of course, about agreeing or acknowledging a legal document without ever reading it. This practice is so common in our digital age that it’s now fodder for late night comics. Yet, from time to time, this failure can come back to bite you. That’s exactly what happened to telecom giant AT&T.

According to a Bloomberg report, the phone company will have to pay about $40 million to settle a patent infringement suit because counsel for the respondent “failed to read a court document.”

Two-Way Media LLC won a $27.5 million jury verdict that allocated damages based on AT&T’s practice of using Two-Way Media’s tech to track what you watch on streaming video. Well, adding insult to injury, AT&T had 30 days to appeal. Due to some procedural snafu or other – sources are hazy as to exactly what happened – AT&T’s counsel missed the deadline, so now they have to pay the $27.5 million PLUS INTEREST.

AT&T already appealed, and they lost. Yes, they had been given some erroneous information, but nearly 20 members of their legal team had the correct information…and failed to read the document! Nor did they actively monitor the docket of any subsequent corrections or rulings.

This action – or, more specifically – lack of action goes well beyond failure to read the fine print. But the principle is the same. You are responsible for what you are responsible for, whether or not you read what you say your read or do what you swore you did (or did not) do.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5W Public Relations and founder of the Ronn Torossian Foundation.