Class Status Denied for Comcast Hidden Fee Suit

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – A federal judge refused to certify a class that says Comcast markets and sells service plans without disclosing additional equipment fees.
     Athanassios Diacakis said Comcast offered him numerous deals over the phone, including a Triple Play package that bundles cable, phone and Internet services, without mentioning the additional fee to lease a modem.
     He hoped to represent a class against Comcast, alleging violations of California’s consumer, unfair-competition and false-advertising laws.
     U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong nixed most claims in January 2012.
     Though she declined to determine whether Comcast’s actions were misleading, she found the lead plaintiff’s claims were not particular enough “to pass muster.”
     “The [first amended complaint] fails to specify when or where Comcast advertisements were viewed, the content of those advertisements, or which of them in particular plaintiff relied upon,” Armstrong wrote.
     Diacakis added more details about his personal contacts with Comcast representatives in the second amended complaint, but Judge Armstrong said this version still failed to add additional facts about Comcast’s marketing practices.
     The court refused to grant class certification last week, agreeing with Comcast that the proposed class definition is too broad.
     “To be a member of the class proposed by plaintiff, one need only have ‘purchased a bundled internet, cable television and telephone service package from defendant Comcast Corporation and [been] charged rental or lease fees for the mandatory telephony modern equipment in addition to the bundled rate from May 14, 2007 to the present,'” Armstrong wrote.
     “In other words, the class includes anyone who purchased any bundled package, irrespective of whether he or she was deceived by Comcast’s alleged failure to disclose the existence of additional modem charges,” she added (emphasis in original).
     Armstrong also found that Diacakis failed to show evidence about the number of subscribers who were allegedly misled by Comcast’s practices, and failed to show that Comcast intentionally failed to inform subscribers about separate modem fees.

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