United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
Farrow Road Dental Group, P.A. and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
AT&T Corp., and Bellsouth Telecommunications, LLC d/b/a AT&T Southeast or d/b/a AT&T South Carolina, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO COMPEL
ARBITRATION (ECF NO. 17)
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
this putative nationwide class action, Plaintiff Farrow Road
Dental Group, P.A. (“Farrow Road”) seeks recovery
from Defendants AT&T Corp. and Bellsouth
Telecommunications (collectively “AT&T”) for
damages arising out of the parties' former business
relationship. That relationship was governed, at least in
part, by a Business Service Agreement (“BSA”).
See ECF No. 17-2 at 6-19.
matter is before the court on AT&T's motion to compel
arbitration as to all claims and to stay the action pending
arbitration. ECF No. 17. This motion relies on an arbitration
clause found in the BSA. For the reasons set forth below,
AT&T's motion is granted. Plaintiff must pursue its
claims in arbitration.
Road is a dental practice that utilized AT&T for its
phone service from 2006 to 2015. ECF No. 1-1, Compl. at
¶ 7; ECF No. 17-2, Decl. of Candace Johnson, at ¶
4. In 2011, Farrow Road ordered one line of service from
AT&T. ECF No. 17 at ¶ 4. As is its practice,
AT&T mailed an order confirmation letter and BSA to
Farrow Road. Id. at ¶¶ 5-6. In 2014,
Farrow Road renewed its current phone line and added four
more lines of service. Id. at 8. Again, AT&T
mailed the order confirmation letter and BSA to Farrow Road.
September of 2015, Farrow Road requested all five telephone
numbers then in service with AT&T be transferred to
another service provider, Time Warner Cable. Compl. at ¶
7. AT&T disconnected the phone numbers or
“otherwise failed to properly port the numbers.”
Id. at ¶ 8. Therefore, Farrow Road's
existing patients and potential patients contacting Farrow
Road through its phone numbers received an automatic message
the numbers were no longer in service, and advised callers to
“press 1 now” to be connected to a
“new” dentist. Id. This directed
existing and new patients to dentists other than Farrow Road.
Id. This message was received by callers from
September 2015 to January 28, 2016. Id. at ¶ 9.
on AT&T's alleged failure to properly disconnect,
transfer, and/or port the telephone lines, Plaintiffs assert
four causes of action: negligence, fraud, fraudulent
concealment, and negligence per se in violation of
the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Id.
first page of the BSA, the last sentence of the first
paragraph notes, in all capital letters, THIS CONTRACT
CONTAINS AN ARBITRATION PROVISION WHICH MAY BE ENFORCED BY
THE PARTIES. ECF No. 17-2 at 13. The arbitration clause on
which AT&T relies reads as follows:
a. AT&T and You agree to exercise best efforts to resolve
all disputes and claims between us through good faith
negotiation. AT&T and You further agree that any such
dispute or claim that cannot be resolved through negotiations
shall be resolved by binding arbitration administered by the
American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) under
its Commercial Arbitration Rules in effect at the time the
dispute is submitted for resolution (the
“Rules”), as may be modified by this Agreement.
This agreement to arbitrate is intended to be broadly
interpreted. YOU AGREE THAT, BY ENTERING INTO THIS AGREEMENT,
YOU AND AT&T ARE EACH WAIVING THE RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY
JURY OR TO PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION.
Id. at 17. Further, the BSA notes
e. The arbitrator may award injunctive relief only in favor
of the individual party seeking relief and only to the extent
necessary to provide relief warranted by that party's
individual claim. YOU AGREE THAT, BY ENTERING INTO THIS
AGREEMENT, YOU AND AT&T ARE EACH WAIVING THE RIGHT TO A
TRIAL BY JURY OR TO PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION. AT&T
AND YOU AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER
ONLY IN AN INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR
CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE
PROCEEDING. Furthermore, unless You and AT&T agree
otherwise, the arbitrator may not consolidate more than one
person's claims, and may not otherwise preside over any