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PC World

AT&T, Lucent sued over Y2K problems

March 12, 1999
Web posted at: 7:49 p.m. EST (0049 GMT)

by Rebecca Sykes

(IDG) -- A New York law firm has launched a class-action lawsuit against AT&T and its spin-off Lucent Technologies on behalf of individuals or organizations who use the companies' telecommunications equipment that isn't Year 2000-compliant.
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    Beatie and Osborn filed suits in New York Supreme Court and New Jersey Superior Court in January, charging the companies with marketing and selling equipment they knew would cause problems when the calendar rolled over to 2000.

    "They said in marketing materials that the product 'will carry your business beyond the Year 2000,' even though they knew there would be compatibility issues," says Curt Marshall, attorney with the eight-member firm.

    The suit alleges that AT&T and Lucent violated state consumer-protection laws and breached warranties. A Lucent spokesperson says the charges are groundless.

    "We've been working with customers for a long time on Year 2000 issues," says Lynn Newman, a Lucent representative. "We went through our records to try to identify customers for whom this may be an issue."

    All Lucent Business Communications Systems products released after September 30, 1996, "are Y2K-compliant or we will make them compliant at our cost," Newman says. Most other customers are covered by service agreements and get Year 2000 solutions for free, she adds.

    The lawsuits seek repair or replacement costs and an undetermined amount in punitive damages, according to Marshall. He declined to say how many entities have joined the class-action suit. The suit covers a huge range of products, from switching systems to system-management products to videoconferencing systems.

    Lucent has asked the judge in the New York case to dismiss the charges, Newman says. The companies have not yet responded to the complaint in New Jersey court, Marshall says.

    The suit is not the first Y2K-related charge brought against Lucent, Newman says.

    "We've had other actions but they've been settled, [though] how they were resolved and the terms are confidential," she said.

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