Court denies Comcast motion to compel arbitration in suit alleging sales rep badgered former customer

By Gabriel Neves | Dec 20, 2018

MIAMI – The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida recently dismissed a motion to compel arbitration filed by cable giant Comcast Cable Communication LLC regarding a lawsuit filed by a former customer who claimed she was harassed by its salespeople in an attempt to regain her service.

In a ruling filed Dec. 12, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom denied Comcast's motion to compel arbitration and stay litigation as well as a motion to stay discovery and other pretrial proceedings in the lawsuit filed by Jenette Hicks against Comcast, sale representative Elizabeth Renter and iPacesetters LLC.

Hicks sued Comcast, Renter and iPacesetters alleging harassment and disorderly behavior as they were attempting to reinstate cable services without her consent.

Filings in the case said, "On or about June 22, 2017, Comcast through its sales representative defendant Renter called the plaintiff, its former customer, in an attempt to reinitiate cable services with her," for which Hicks "tried to politely decline the offer to renew or reinitiate a contract."

Renter called Hicks multiple times with the calls being "friendly" in the beginning but became contentious, making Hicks tell Renter she did not want to receive any more calls. Hicks also claimed that Renter called her eight times on June 22, 2017.

"At the conclusion of one of the sales calls, defendant Renter called the plaintiff back using a 'private' telephone number to disguise her identity," filings said. "Plaintiff answered, recognized the caller’s voice as Renter’s, reiterated that she was not interested in the services being offered, and then hung up the phone. During one of the final calls from defendant Renter, plaintiff told defendant Renter that she did not want any

more calls and to leave a message," the ruling said.

Hicks also claimed Renter used inappropriate language and threatened her.

"Renter called another time and left the following message on the plaintiff’s voicemail: “You got the right woman, n*gger! You talk a lot of sh*t over the f*cking phone, don’t you? Good thing I got your address," court filings said. "Plaintiff and her children could hear the message out loud while it was being recorded. Plaintiff alleges that she and her children were horrified, shocked and humiliated by the message left by defendant Renter. Plaintiff claims she was afraid for herself and her family. Plaintiff then reported the incident to the local authorities and to the Federal Trade Commission." the filings said.

Hicks filed the suit on Aug. 22 and Comcast responded that the subscriber agreement contained an arbitration clause that governed the customer-company relationship.

Comcast said Hicks was a customer for over 10 years and should have received the agreement. Hicks responded that she never received the document, except through her attorney.

In her ruling, Bloom denied Comcast's motions, stating that "the parties may very well need to engage in discovery in order to prove the issue of whether a valid arbitration agreement existed between them," adding that "granting of the motion to stay discovery and pretrial proceedings would inhibit the parties’ ability to

adequately prepare for the bench trial."

A bench trial is scheduled for Feb. 4, 2019.

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