L.A.'s Cellular Reception At Issue In Lawsuit

A woman who couldn't reach a dispatcher by dialing 911 from her cellular telephone can proceed with her lawsuit, a state superior court judge has ruled.

Judge Bernard Kamins ruled that five of the six allegations made by Marcia Spielholz against L.A. Cellular Co. are "triable" issues, and pretrial discovery and depositions can proceed in her civil lawsuit.

Spielholz was shot and injured in December 1994 as she was driving from Culver City to Beverly Hills, in what is considered to be a well-populated area of Los Angeles. In her lawsuit, she claims her vehicle was cut off by another driver and she dialed 911 several times for help, but could not get through. The other driver eventually shot her through the car window and fled.

Kamins did drop one count from the lawsuit, one charging the company with "intentional infliction of emotional distress" by not disclosing to subscribers that its cellular service might be erratic or even non-existent in some parts of Los Angeles.

Spielholz's attorney, Mark O. Hiepler, was ecstatic over the ruling. "This means that L.A. Cellular will be forced to stand trial." On the other hand, L.A. Cellular spokesman Steven Crosby said, "We're going to continue to try to stop this case," said the spokesman, Steven C. Crosby. The case is being watched by other cellular companies, consumers and federal regulators all across the country.

copyright 1998, 911 Dispatch Services Inc.