A small business owner from Kansas City, Kan., has filed a lawsuit against Sprint Nextel Corporation.
The suit, filed in August by Brian Vazquez, owner of Middle Man Inc., and his attorney, David Marcus, accuses Sprint and its attorneys of malicious prosecution and various other charges.
It all began in 2012, when Sprint filed a lawsuit against Vazquez, accusing him of things like stealing subsidies and running an overseas cellphone trafficking scheme.
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Vazquez told the 41 Action News investigators that his business doesn't operate that way.
"We pretty much helped one customer get rid of something they didn't need and help another customer get something they did need," Vazquez said.
Vazquez said his business runs by buying cellphones from one customer and selling them to another.
While 13 charges were initially field against Vazquez, he was only found guilty of one count of breach of contract. A judge ordered him to pay Sprint $1, even though Sprint asked for more than $700,000 in damages.
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"If spending $500,000 of your client's money to go after two defendants and recover $1 from one of those defendants is a win, then the bar for them is pretty low," Marcus said.
Sprint's lawsuit filed against Vazquez dragged on until March 2015. Vazquez said the lengthy process took a toll on him both financially and in regards to his family life.
Vazquez and Marcus told the 41 Action News investigators that they're suing Sprint because its lawsuit filed against Vazquez wasn't based on facts. Instead, they said Sprint filed a "cookie-cutter" lawsuit against Vazquez that's been filed against hundreds of other small business owners across the country as a means to take them out of the wireless customer business.
"They knew it was false, and they kept going hoping he'd settle, hoping he'd walk away and he never did," Marcus said.
Since Sprint's lawsuit against Vazquez came to an end, Vazquez said he talks with other people who run businesses like Middle Man Inc. He said they're all business owners who have had a similar lawsuit filed against them.
"They've (Sprint) been successful because a lot of companies, they don't have the resources that Sprint does and they're scared and horrified," Vazquez said. "They just want it to go away. So, a lot of times they're just settling so they can go on."
While Sprint declined an interview with the 41 Action News investigators, they did offer a taped statement where Dave Tovar, vice president of corporate communications for Sprint, addressed the issues the company is having with the illegal sales of its phones.
"We're taking a stand against traffickers to preserve our ability to offer affordable wireless devices," Tovar said in the taped statement. "We've been able to preserve subsidies and discounts to legitimate customers and have also assisted law enforcement in bringing criminals to justice."
Tovar also stands by Sprint's initial claims against Vazquez.
"To be clear, Mr. Vazquez and his company are traffickers, not competitors," he said.
Still, Vazquez said his business continues to thrive. He said he has one goal when it comes to his lawsuit against Sprint.
"To put an end to this bullying scheme that they're doing nationwide," Vazquez said. "If I can help just one other individual then I feel like I can be successful."