What would eventually become Verizon Communications started as Bell Atlantic in 1983. Since then, it has been one of the largest providers of telecommunication and wireless services in the US. While the company has enjoyed incredible growth and profits, not everything has gone well.
Customers have complained about Verizon's prices, lack of good customer service, and variety of product offerings for quite some time, and employees and other companies have had their battles with Verizon as well. Even that could be taken as just a matter of course for any business, if not for the numerous lawsuits that the telecommunications giant has been involved in.
Here are ten Verizon lawsuits you should definitely know about.
1. Family SharePlan Lawsuit
Millions of Verizon Wireless customers have opted for the company's family plans, but one class action lawsuit alleged that Verizon over-billed those who were on the SharePlan tier between May 11, 2002 and May 10, 2006. Not only were those affected by the lawsuit charged for in-network calls that should have been free, they were charged 45 cents per each overage minute instead of the 25 cents per minute that's the standard.
Verizon agreed to settle the lawsuit for $64.2 million. $36.7 million of that went to a settlement fund, while the remaining $27.5 million is the maximum that Verizon will pay to issue credits for free domestic and international calls to those who were incorrectly charged for in-network calls.
2. Vodafone Buyout Battle
When Verizon Wireless decided to buy Vodafone's 45 percent stake in the company for $130 billion, one of their shareholders had a major problem with the entire deal. Natalie Gordon came forward with a lawsuit in 2013 claiming that Verizon had breached its fiduciary duties to shareholders by overpaying for the deal. It wasn't just shareholders who thought the company had agreed to pay too much -- financial analysts concurred, and Verizon's credit rating was downgraded by Moody's after the buyout was announced along with a drop in their share price. Initially, Verizon's legal representatives stated that the lawsuit was unfounded, but they eventually agreed to settle just months after the lawsuit was filed.
3. Robocall Class Action
Robocalls are hugely annoying, and a class action Verizon lawsuit was filed in 2012 due to the company making use of the practice while collecting debts. Sure, the company has the right to pursue collection efforts, but the problem here was that the calls were being placed to people who had never been Verizon customers and, therefore, owed the company nothing. The debt collector that Verizon hired to make the calls, Collecto, has been sued in other lawsuits because of its bad business practices including skip tracing and not disclosing the recording of calls. In late 2015, a settlement of $4 million was reached.
4. Heart Attack Lawsuit
Verizon's customer service is known for not being the most helpful at best and downright rude at worst, but one customer, Angela Hawkins, alleged that she had a heart attack as a result of being threatened and disrespected by a customer service representative and the representative's supervisor. In 2015, Hawkins sued the company for $2.35 million in damages for emotional distress. Unfortunately, the Verizon employees acted just as badly as the lawsuit claimed, as recordings of the call revealed. There's been no word on whether a settlement in the case has been reached.
5. Early Termination Fee Class Action
What wireless customer doesn't despise early termination fees? Members of a class action Verizon lawsuit filed in 2006 alleged that the company charged excessive ETFs that weren't prorated. In 2008, the company agreed to pay a $21 million settlement, but they refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing. Instead, a Verizon rep simply said they wanted to get the "distraction" taken care of and out of the way.
6. Debt Collection Lawsuit
Christine Baker, a former Verizon customer, sued the company for $5 million in 2003 for a number of issues. Not only did Verizon continue to bill her after she paid off her closed account in 1999, they refused to validate the debt when it was sent to collections. Rather than following established consumer protection practices, Verizon simply sent the account to different debt collection companies when it couldn't be validated. Though she had provided proof of her claims and the wrongdoings of the collection agencies and Verizon to the courts, her case was dismissed -- she appealed, but to no avail. Baker eventually posted all of the evidence online for the world to see, pointing to corruption within the courts and Verizon.
7. Cramming Lawsuit
In this Verizon lawsuit, the company was accused by the US government of obtaining millions of dollars from customs via unauthorized phone charges, otherwise known as cramming. Verizon Wireless decided to settle the suit and agreed to pay $90 million, $70 million of which went to customers who had been victims of the bill cramming. Verizon wasn't the only company involved in the illegal practice, as Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile have all been forced by the government to pay tens of millions of dollars after their deceptive billing practices came to light.
8. Verizon v. Nextel, and Nextel v. Verizon
These two companies went at it in court in 2003, with each filing its own lawsuit claiming damages. Verizon made the first strike by filing in June 2003, and Nextel followed in September of that year with a suit related to how Verizon had chosen to advertise one of the company's products. Both companies reached a confidential settlement and their lawsuits were dismissed as a result.
9. FMLA Lawsuit
The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, or FMLA, grants employees time off to properly handle births and adoptions, but a Verizon lawsuit was launched by 37 employees who claimed the company was in violation of the law. The employees were either fired or penalized for simply requesting the leave they were entitled to, and their requests were often unlawfully denied.
10. EEOC v. Verizon
In 2011, a Verizon lawsuit was filed by the EEOC on behalf of hundreds of employees that had been fired or retaliated against due to being disabled. When they asked for accommodation due to their disabilities, the company often flat out refused. As a result of the lawsuit, Verizon agreed to pay a $20 million settlement.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker