writes to tell us that an Alameda County Judge has ruled against Sprint Nextel in a class-action lawsuit, awarding customers $18.2 million in restitution
for early termination fees. "Though the decision could be appealed, it's the first in the country to declare the fees illegal in a state and could affect other similar lawsuits, with broad implications for the nation's fast-growing legions of cell phone users. The judge - who is overseeing several other suits against telecommunications companies that involve similar fees - also told the company to stop trying to collect $54.7 million from other customers who haven't yet paid the charges they were assessed. The suit said about 2 million Californians were assessed the fee."