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Comcast Monopoly Class Action Lawsuit Heads to Trial

By Matt O’Donnell

 

BluetoothA federal judge ruled last week that portions of a class action lawsuit alleging Comcast set out to establish a monopoly in the Philadelphia area can go to jury trial.

The decision is good news for Philadelphia-area cable TV customers who sued Comcast nine years ago in the class action lawsuit Behrend v. Comcast Corp. Consumers claim the alleged monopoly allowed Comcast to overcharge them nearly $875 million by keeping competition out of the market.

According to the Comcast monopoly class action lawsuit, the company violated antitrust laws by striking a series of deals with would-be competitors in which they “swapped” assets and customers so that each company would have “clusters” or markets. Those alleged deals gave Comcast monopoly power because it allowed its market share of Philadelphia subscribers to increase from 23.9% in 1998 to 77.8% by 2002, the class action lawsuit claims.

Federal Judge John R. Padova, Jr. ruled that the Philadelphia Comcast antitrust class action lawsuit can proceed to trial because consumers had “presented evidence from which a jury could find that Comcast had monopoly power” by buying Philadelphia-area cable companies that had previously competed with Comcast for local service franchises, thus reducing competition. Judge Padova also ruled consumers presented sufficient evidence that Comcast may have “acted with predation,” which is illegal under the Sherman Antitrust Act, when it targeted special discounts to consumers of rival cable provider RCN in hopes of driving the company out of the market, and that Comcast’s conduct stopped RCN from expanding and offering more customers competitive service.

However, Judge Padova rejected the claim that Comcast broke the law simply by buying up competing local companies, since Comcast was able to prove that this created economic efficiencies and allowed it to offer new products and services. He also rejected the claim that Comcast wrongly stopped contractors from working for RCN, since RCN was able to find other contractors.

Similar class action lawsuits were filed on behalf of Comcast customers in the Boston and Chicago area markets, but those cases are pending the outcome of the Philadelphia case.

 

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Updated April 17th, 2012

 

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1 Comment

  • Georgetta Thomas January 4, 2013

    In 2008 I setted my previous Comcast account. My services were interrupted over the holidays (2012). When I payed my bill (on the account that I have had for 4 years) and asked if there were any new deals the service provider entered me as a new installations. Two days later my services was again interrupted. When I spoke to Rochelle she told me that the account (I thought I settled 4 years ago) Is still showing a balance of $150. Even if I settled an account with a collection agency, I still owe the remaining balance to comcast. Therefore, I will now have to pay on an account that I settled 4 years ago. Even though I have had service with them for the last 4 years. How is this possible?? How can they pay someone to settle their accounts but yet the remaining balance is still owed. This is not settling an account.

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