A Texas federal court has refused to send a putative class action against Samsung to arbitration. The suit claims that Samsung didn’t make customers whole on faulty Galaxy S phones. U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater found that clauses in the customers’ wireless carrier contracts did not include the phones’ maker. Judge Fitzwater ruled that Samsung could file a supplemental appendix in support of moving the suit to arbitration, but denied the motion on the grounds that the customers suing the company had arbitration agreements with Sprint and Verizon, but not with Samsung. Judge Fitzwater wrote:
It is not necessary for plaintiffs to rely on the terms of their service agreements with Sprint Corp. and Verizon Wireless to assert their claims against Samsung, and plaintiffs’ claims are not intimately founded in and intertwined with these contracts.
Judge Fitzwater also pared the putative class’s claims, trimming out several breach of warranty accusations on the grounds that the customers had turned to their wireless carriers and not Samsung itself to fix their phones when problems arose – Galitsky, along with two other lead Plaintiffs, filed suit in California in June 2012. Samsung successfully moved the suit to federal court in Dallas. It was at least the third such class action the Plaintiffs had attempted over the Galaxy S phones.
Galitsky said in the suit that his phone started failing only a few months after he bought it. The phones freeze, shut down and power off randomly in standby mode, rendering them unusable, the Plaintiffs contended. Galitsky said he contacted Samsung about the defect when he was having a different problem with the phone and that Samsung did nothing to fix it. He says he had a second problem, also unrelated, and again told the company about the shutdown issue.
Galitsky is still trying to use the Galaxy S, a fact that, Samsung argued, should preclude him from bringing claims of the product’s unmerchantability to court. But Judge Fitzwater disagreed, saying that because Galitsky has to frequently remove the phone’s battery to reset it, it renders the phone useless for its general purpose.
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