×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Supreme Court Rejects Class Action in Comcast Suit

Philadelphia customers sought antitrust claim

The Supreme Court narrowly ruled in favor of Comcast on Wednesday, holding that a group of its Philadelphia area subscribers claiming they were overcharged could not sue the cable operator in a certified class action.

The high court’s 5-4 decision could have implications well beyond the cable TV business, as it places limitations on how consumers can pursue cases against companies as a class.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that the class had been improperly certified by a lower court, finding fault in a model used to determine damages and in turn to certify the class action. More than 2 million current and former Comcast customers were part of the class, certified by a district court and approved by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Prices whose level above what an expert deems ‘competitive’ has been caused by factors unrelated to an accepted theory of ‘antitrust’ harm are not ‘anticompetitive’ in any sense relevant here,” Scalia wrote.

The plaintiffs in the antitrust suit claimed that the swapping of systems to bolster market share within a particular region led to higher prices. The practice is called “clustering,” or concentrating operations within a particular region.

Comcast had argued that the class of plaintiffs did not have a commonality of interest.

The plaintiffs, six customers of Comcast, brought the suit in 2003, alleging conduct that shut out competition and eventually led to higher prices. A district court ruled in their favor in their efforts to sue as a class, something that is potentially more far reaching for Comcast, particularly when it comes to damages. The 3rd Circuit ruled that the district court “did not exceed its permissible discretion” in certifying the class or determining that there would be a methodology to determine damages.

In their decision, the 3rd circuit noted that Comcast’s share of the Philadelphia market “allegedly” increased from 23.9% in 1998 to 77.8% in 2002, settling at 69.5% in 2007.

Comcast also argued that the FCC and antitrust authorities approved the clustering in the Philadelphia market.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in a dissent that the Supreme Court took the case prematurely. “Incautiously entering the fray at this interlocutory stage, the Court sets forth a profoundly mistaken view of antitrust law,” they wrote. The were joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

More Biz

  • Pete Frates, who is stricken with

    Pete Frates, Inspiration for The Ice Bucket Challenge, Dies at 34

    Pete Frates, the inspiration behind 2014’s wildly successful ALS movement, the Ice Bucket Challenge, died on Monday. He was 34.  The historic Ice Bucket campaign raised over $115 million to combat ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which Frates also suffered from.  “Pete never complained about his illness,” his family said in a statement.  “Instead, he [...]

  • CBS HEADQUARTERS

    ViacomCBS Will Explore Sale of Black Rock CBS Headquarters

    ViacomCBS will explore the sale of the famous Black Rock building, which has served as the headquarters of CBS since the mid 1960s. Bob Bakish, CEO of the company, which was created last week from the merger of CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc., said the newly combined entertainment conglomerate would explore the sale of sundry [...]

  • The recipients of the 42nd Annual

    Heartfelt Tributes Trump Politics at Kennedy Center Honors

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Political chatter was kept to a minimum Sunday night as the Kennedy Center Honors presented elaborate tributes to “Sesame Street” — made more poignant by the death of legendary puppeteer Caroll Spinney earlier in the day — as well as Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, Earth, Wind and Fire and conductor Michael Tilson [...]

  • Chris Cornell’s Widow Sues Soundgarden

    Chris Cornell’s Widow Sues Soundgarden Over Royalties, Unreleased Recordings

    A long-simmering battle between Chris Cornell’s widow and the other members of Soundgarden broke into the open Monday morning when Vicky Cornell announced that she is suing the group over hundreds of thousands of dollars in allegedly unpaid royalties and the rights to seven unreleased recordings made before the singer’s death in May of 2017. [...]

  • Stephen Colbert Julia Louis-Dreyfus

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus Talks 'Seinfeld,' 'Sexist' Environment at 'SNL' in Q&A With Stephen Colbert

    Stephen Colbert and Julia Louis-Dreyfus swapped stories about “Saturday Night Live,” Northwestern University, “Seinfeld” and the possibility of running for office during a Q&A held Saturday as part of Montclair Film Festival’s annual “Evening with Stephen Colbert” fundraiser. Colbert, a Montclair resident, has long been a booster of the festival, which is going into its [...]

  • 2019 Kennedy Center Honoree singer Linda

    Linda Ronstadt to Mike Pompeo: Stop 'Enabling' Donald Trump

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Linda Ronstadt, one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honorees, had sharp words for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday night during a State Department reception for the Kennedy Center kudos. Ronstadt and Pompeo faced off in the U.S. State Department’s ornate diplomatic greeting rooms at the traditional event that precedes Sunday’s [...]

  • pharrell brain child show

    'Blurred Lines' Flares Up Again - Marvin Gaye Family Claims Pharrell Perjured Himself

    Like a zombie that just won’t stay dead, the “Blurred Lines” case keeps coming back. While the 2015 verdict, in which Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and the song’s publisher were ordered to pay nearly $5 million to Marvin Gaye’s family for infringing upon the late singer’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up,” was basically [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content