Jessica M. Karmasek Apr. 16, 2015, 3:30pm



MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - An Alabama personal injury law firm, known for its television commercials featuring famed actor William Shatner, filed a lawsuit in federal court last week against a communications provider for failing to provide “reliable” cloud-based phone service.




The Slocumb Law Firm LLC, which has offices in Auburn, Ala., Baltimore and Washington, D.C., filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama Friday.




 




The named defendant is San Jose-based 8x8 Inc. The company is a software-based communications provider that offers commercial communication services, including a cloud-based Voice over IP, or VoIP, business phone system. Features offered include auto attendants, music on hold, conference bridge, ring groups, plus unlimited local and long distance calling.




 




Slocumb, as noted in its eight-page complaint, engages in a “sophisticated” television marketing campaign. Shatner, mostly known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk of USS Enterprise on “Star Trek,” started doing commercials for the law firm, and other firms, after his starring role as eccentric attorney Denny Crane on “Boston Legal.”




 




The law firm argues that its TV campaign generates a “substantial” volume of incoming calls from potential clients, resulting in more than $75 million for injured clients since the firm’s inception in 2008 and more than $8 million in fees last year alone.




 




According to the complaint, under an agreement the firm and 8x8 entered into in 2013, the company said it would provide a “reliable” cloud-based VoIP phone-hosted service and routing of incoming calls. This included an unlimited number of incoming calls.




 




In exchange, the firm says it agreed to pay an established monthly rate based on the number of active employees using the system.




 




“First, all incoming calls were to be forwarded to the initial ring group, which included SLF receptionists,” the complaint states. “If no receptionists were available, then all incoming calls were to be forwarded to the second ring group, consisting of all SLF administrative personnel in the Alabama office. If no members of the second ring group were available, all incoming calls were to be forwarded to the third ring group, which consisted of all SLF personnel in the Washington, D.C., office. If no members of the third ring group were available, all incoming calls would be èycled back to the first ring group, thus establishing an infinite feedback loop until an SLF staff member was available to take the call.




 




“At no point should any call have been dropped or sent to voicemail before speaking directly with SLF personnel.”




 




But that’s exactly what happened, the law firm alleges.




 




“Since at least February 2014, 8x8 Inc. has allowed calls to be dropped before they can be placed on hold, and has not provided sufficient extensions at which to park calls,” the complaint states.




 




Slocumb says it has brought the issues to 8x8’s attention “on numerous occasions,” but the company has been “unable, or unwilling, to resolve the issues in a satisfactory manner.”




 




As a result, the law firm contends it has lost business.




 




“As a result of Defendant’s failure to perform under the terms of the Contract, and Defendant’s breach of the same, Plaintiff lost innumerable potential client intakes, which would have yielded substantial attorney’s fees,” it wrote.




 




“As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s breach, Plaintiff has incurred great expense, a loss of brand value, a loss of consumer goodwill, and other reputational harms.”




 




Slocumb is seeking damages, court costs and attorney’s fees.




 




From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.


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