Attorney Can’t Sue Time Warner for Shows

     (CN) – A New Jersey attorney cannot sue Time Warner Cable for failing to broadcast MSG Network sports shows for seven weeks, a federal judge ruled.
     Harold Hoffman, of Englewood, claimed that Time Warner induced him to subscribe to cable TV and video services in November 2008, promising him receive MSG and MSG+ sports programming.
     But after Time Warner’s right to carry these networks expired in January 2012, they were unavailable for 49 days, until the companies reached a new agreement.
     Hoffman filed a class action Newark Federal Court, claiming the seven-week hiatus brought “a significant financial windfall for defendant,” which did not have to pay MSG for those seven weeks, though it continued to charge customers.
     The amended complaint claims that 14 million Time Warner subscribers “paid hard earned money” for the programs they never received, which had been “promised by defendant.”
     Hoffman claimed he had to continue his subscription for those seven weeks because the town lacks other cable services, and he could not install a satellite dish because he was not a property owner. He sought damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, unconscionable commerce, deception, fraud, misrepresentation, and knowing omission.
     Time Warner moved to dismiss in April, and Senior U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise granted the motion on June 6, finding Hoffman’s allegations “steeped in threadbare recitals of the elements and conclusory statements.”
     Hoffman’s consumer fraud claim lacks particularity the judge found.
     “[D]etail as to the nature, date, time, place, method, and terms of the promise to the class are entirely absent,” Debevoise wrote. “As to the solicitation individually directed to him, the allegation similarly fails for lack of particularity. Mr. Hoffman fails to include the nature of the telephone communication; the identity of the representative with whom he spoke; how the solicitation arose; that the solicitation was expressly for line-itemed sports programming or a part of a bundled package; whether or not the promise was for a fixed menu of programming; and whether or not such programming was to evolve or remain stagnant over time. Similarly, Mr. Hoffman does not submit any details at all as to his unlawful omissions claim, and simply lists it in connection with the supposed fraud.”
     Debevoise also tossed Hoffman’s breach of contract claim.
     “Mr. Hoffman’s allegations do not meet the pleading requirements to assert that a promise was made at any time by TWC [Time Warner Cable], by phone or by written instrument, that the specific sports channels were to be fixed as a part of the programming over time,” Debevoise wrote. “Indeed, the written agreement does not list which channels are to be offered, and clearly indicates the flexible nature of the bundled package over time. A breach of contract does not exist here as a matter of law.”
     Hoffman may not amend his complaint a second time.
     Hoffman is a frequent flyer in courts. He has been a plaintiff in more than 75 lawsuits since 2010, many of them class actions, according to the Courthouse News database.

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