Why my law firm sued Verizon Business
Many people have the misconception that lawyers love to file lawsuits. At least in my case, nothing can be further from the truth. Like I always counsel my clients, a lawsuit should be a last resort – only when all other options have failed. Litigation can be difficult, costly, and even destructive. Of course, there are times when a company or person has no choice, but to ask the Courts for help. In those times, lawyers have to be fully prepared to file a suit and vindicate the rights of their clients – or themselves.
This is one of those times.
In my years of practice, I have never seen a situation like this. Our firm, (like most businesses today) relies on having an internet connection to operate. From e-mail to legal research to utilizing the mandatory federal court filing systems, an internet connection is an absolute necessity in today’s legal practice. I would argue that it is more of a necessity than a telephone line.
Hurricane Irene blew through the DC area Saturday night. Since that time (nearly a week ago), our firm has not had internet access. Other Verizon customers in our building never lost access, but instead a smattering of businesses in our area suffered the brunt for some unknown reason. Now, I have no issue with losing services because of a natural weather event – those things certainly happen. Instead, the series of events that followed is what made our firm take this extraordinary action. Besides the impossible customer service (which we all have experienced), Verizon clearly had no idea what happened. After initially blaming the problem on us (and retracting that after wasting a few precious days), Verizon kept poking in the dark for a solution. With no end in sight (and after I and other employees cumulatively spent dozens of hours on the phone – in the Verizon maze), our firm decided to take this extraordinary action. The press release from my firm being publicized next week says it all:
Vienna, VA September 6, 2011 – Centre Law Group LLC today announced that it has filed suit in Circuit Court in Fairfax, VA to force Verizon Business to restore its T1 internet service. Centre’s T1 office service went down on Sunday, August 28, 2011 in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Centre’s IT team patiently called Verizon each day (for hours at a time) trying to get Verizon to restore the service outage, but to no avail. Verizon alternately claimed the problem resided at Centre’s office, then later that the problem was in Verizon’s office, and then claimed again that the problem was in the Centre office and back and forth. Verizon has finally conceded the problem is on their end. Finally on Wednesday, August 31, 2011, Centre Senior Attorney, Eric Crusius got involved. Together, Centre’s IT staff andEric spent over 4 hours on the same phone call with various Verizon personnel. At this point, Centre’s IT staff had spent over 30 hours on the phone with Verizon.
On Thursday, September 1, after service had been down for 5 days, Verizon finally alleged that they had narrowed down the problem as one at their central office. However, they could not locate the correct personnel who could fix the issue. Centre’s IT staff, after making multiple phone calls (including one at 4:00 in the morning) received a report from a Verizon manager that they believed that their controllers were defective and would replace them overnight. On day 6, however, Centre still did not have T1 service restored and with no end in sight, decided to file suit in Fairfax, VA to force Verizon to fix the issue and restore service, since Verizon admits that the connection issue remains at their central office and is affecting other Northern Virginia-area businesses.
Centre is is requesting that a judge direct Verizon to do whatever it takes to restore service. When asked about this issue, Eric commented that “While we are sympathetic that this issue appears to have been caused by a hurricane, Verizon’s failure to isolate a technical issue after six days is stunning and inexcusable. It appears Verizon does not have a basic understanding of their own network based on their varied, inconsistent, and contradictory yet sporadic efforts to fix their issue that has prevented any of our employees from working at the office this past week. It is much like going in to the doctor for treating a cough and getting your gall bladder removed – after sitting in the waiting room for 6 straight days.”
In the end, we had no choice. We had no timeline for a repair and no pathway out. Our firm cannot continue to operate without internet access and other internet providers would not be able to provide us that service right away.
More on this to come.