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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Comcast Still on the Hook for Pricey Mistake

(CN) - A man who claims Comcast's failure to fix a mistaken charge on his account hurt his credit rating, and cost him $26,000, can pursue breach of contract and negligence claims against the company, a federal judge ruled.

Marc Himmelstein sued Comcast and debt collector Credit Protection Association in District of Columbia Federal Court.

Himmelstein terminated his Comcast service in June 2010. The company's equipment was removed from his home, but a modem was left behind by mistake and Himmelstein was charged $220, according to the complaint.

That charge was forwarded to Credit Protection Association, and reported to national credit-reporting agencies.

"Upon discovering the mix-up, Himmelstein returned the modem to Comcast and sought to have the company correct his account," U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote in a summary. "Despite reassurances from Comcast that the issue was resolved, the mistake remained on his credit report, which ultimately resulted in Himmelstein's having to pay an additional $26,000 when he sought to refinance the mortgage on his home."

Himmelstein sued Comcast for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligence and constructive fraud.

He sued the collection agency for negligence, constructive fraud and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Comcast moved to dismiss the implied covenant, negligence and fraud claims, which the court partly granted Monday.

Judge Boasberg agreed with Comcast that the allegations do not support a claim that the company acted in bad faith.

"The accounting mistakes made by Comcast in handling Himmelstein's account - while unquestionably frustrating - do not raise an inference of bad faith sufficient to state a claim for breach of covenant," Boasberg wrote in dismissing that claim.

Himmelstein also failed to persuade the court that he could maintain a constructive fraud claim against Comcast because he could not prove that he had a "confidential relationship" with the company.

But Boasberg refused to dismiss the negligence claim against Comcast because there are unresolved questions about the company's duty to Himmelstein.

The Comcast agreement includes limitations for liability, but the harm Himmelstein alleged is not covered by any of the agreement's provisions, Boasberg found.

The judge noted, however, that Himmelstein's claims may be barred by the economic-loss doctrine in future pleadings.

Because Comcast did not challenge the breach of contract claim, that claim survives. The claims against Credit Protection may also proceed.

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