CenturyLink Inc. has agreed to pay $55 million to settle a nationwide class-action securities lawsuit led by the $77.7 billion Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund, Tigard, involving the company's alleged overbilling of consumers and those practices' impact on CenturyLink's performance, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Treasurer Tobias Read announced.
Oregon PERF bought CenturyLink securities between March 1, 2013, and July 12, 2017, the lawsuit shows. OPERF and other investors claimed in the lawsuit that they lost millions when CenturyLink's stock price declined after its business practices and financial condition were disclosed following a 2016 investigation by Minnesota state officials into consumer complaints.
Plaintiffs alleged that CenturyLink engaged in "cramming" of customer accounts by adding services without approval, deceiving customers about the price they would be charged and misquoting prices by not telling customers that "bundles" included fees for optional services that they did need or authorize, according to a court order issued in September.
This is the second class action lawsuit Oregon has settled with CenturyLink. In December 2019, CenturyLink agreed to pay $4 million for violations of consumer protection laws, including $672,000 in refunds to consumers and small businesses in the state. The State of Minnesota obtained a $8.9 million settlement for consumers in its state in January.
Oregon will submit the class-action settlement to U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis in Minnesota for preliminary approval.