UPDATE A shareholder of AT&T (NYSE: T) has filed what he hopes will be considered a class action lawsuit against the telecom over the lead cable issue. John Brazinsky’s class action complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey on behalf of those who purchased or traded AT&T securities between March 1, 2020 and July 26, 2023.
He alleges in the suit that AT&T violated federal securities laws by providing false information to the SEC in its annual reports for 2020 through 2022, because, he states, executives knew about the cables but did not disclose them in publicly available information, nor did it warn employees. He alleges the telecom misrepresented or omitted information during the time period, according to the complaint filed July 28.
Much of the complaint cites recent articles by The Wall Street Journal about miles of lead-covered cables left by telecoms over several decades in water, underground and on poles. It notes the price of AT&T’s stock fell by $0.62 per share, or 4.1 percent, to close at $14.50 on July 14. The price fell again by 97 cents per share, to close at $13.54 per share on July 17 on the news the EPA is looking into the issue, according to the complaint. Once the Justice Department and EPA instructed AT&T and other telecoms to provide inspections and environmental sampling data, the stock price fell an additional 2.6 percent, closing at $14.51 on July 27, according to the complaint.
Bloomberg reported last week the company disclosed that lead-sheathed cables comprised less than 10 percent of its footprint of roughly two million miles of copper cables. The complaint states the telecom “has expanded blood lead testing offered to workers after the Journal’s articles.”
“As a result of Defendants’ wrongful acts and omissions, and the precipitous decline in the market value of the Company’s common shares, Plaintiff and other Class members have suffered significant losses and damages,” states Brazinsky in the complaint. He names AT&T CEO John Stankey, former CEO and Board Chair Randall Stephenson, CFO Pascal Desroches and former CFO John Stephens as defendants. He’s demanding damages, “reasonable” costs and expenses and a jury trial.
“We believe the claims alleged by plaintiffs are baseless and will vigorously defend the Company,” an AT&T spokeswoman said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.
The case is Brazinsky v. AT&T Inc., Docket #2:23-cv-04064.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief