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At a hearing on Wednesday, April 6, 2011, DIRECTV customers who were charged cancellation fees of as much as $480 – even if the service was never installed in the first place – asked a California court to let their lawsuit proceed as a “class action.” While the judge put off a decision on the class action, she refused DIRECTV’s request to dismiss the suit altogether.

The suit, filed in September, 2008 by Consumer Watchdog attorneys on behalf of a former DIRECTV customer who was charged such a cancellation penalty, asks the court to order DIRECTV to refund the fees to consumers. The penalty was imposed in a way that violates California standards for consumer contracts.  The lawsuit also seeks a court order prohibiting DIRECTV from charging such fees or penalties in the future. The case has been combined with a similar suit filed in California courts.

Wednesday’s hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court concerned the consumer plaintiffs’ request that the court  certify the case as a class action, meaning that all California consumers who were victimized by DIRECTV’s unlawful practices would be represented in the litigation.

DIRECTV vehemently opposed the class certification motion, arguing that a recent settlement between DIRECTV and 51 state attorneys general eliminated the necessity of a class action case on this matter. However, lawyers for DIRECTV customers explained to the court that the Attorneys General settlement only required DIRECTV to provide better disclosure to consumers about contract commitments but still allowed DIRECTV to continue charging the illegal cancellation penalties.

Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias also considered DIRECTV’s motion to throw out the entire case on the grounds that its early cancellation fee is lawful because DIRECTV has the right to require people to either pay for its monthly service or pay $20 per month for no service.

The judge decided not to issue a ruling on our motion to certify the case as a class action until a case raising a related legal issue is resolved–around the middle of this month. The court rejected DIRECTV’s motion to throw the case out altogether.

For more information about the DIRECTV case, visit its casepage.