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Judge Denies Motion to Force Arbitration in Phone Porn Lawsuit

A man alleges that a phone he purchased from a Sprint store in Pasadena contained pornographic images of a male and female sales associates he recognized from the retailer. Those images were seen by his son.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

A judge today denied a motion by Sprint Corp. subsidiary Nextel of California Inc. to force arbitration of a man's lawsuit alleging that a phone he bought from a company retail store in Pasadena contained pornography that was seen by his underage son.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle Rosenblatt said Nextel had not met its burden to show that the plaintiff, Arsen Garibyan, signed an agreement agreeing to have any disputes decided by an arbitrator rather than in the courts.

"I'm kind of stuck on that," said Rosenblatt, whose ruling allows the case for the time being to proceed toward trial.

In his court papers, Garibyan's attorney stated that his client recalled "signing something for the phones, but he has no recollection of what the document was."

Garibyan filed the lawsuit Oct. 1 on behalf of his son against Sprint and Nextel of California, alleging breach of contract, fraud, breach of the implied warranty of merchantability and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The complaint also alleges the phone was used rather than new, as Garibyan thought.

According to the complaint, Garibyan bought two phones along with a cellular service plan in October 2011 at the Sprint store on Lake Avenue. He says the phones were packaged in new boxes with original instructions and manuals.

After Garibyan and his son returned home, the boy used one of the phones to play games, according to the complaint.

"After a few minutes, (the boy) started asking, 'Daddy, what is this?,"' the suit states. "When Mr. Garibyan looked at the telephone in (his son's) hand, to his shock, horror and disgust, (the child) was looking at pornographic photos and videos contained on one of the newly purchased phones."

The images were of a male and a female sales representative the father recognized from the same Sprint store where he bought the phones, according to the suit.

Stephanie Vinge Walsh of Sprint Corporate Communications issued a statement shortly after the suit was filed, saying Sprint "does not condone this behavior. The sales representatives allegedly implicated were not Sprint employees. We terminated our relationship with this dealer shortly after the incident."

—City News Service

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