BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - Bright House Networks has agreed to a settlement in a class action lawsuit alleging it violated antitrust laws by requiring premium cable subscribers to lease a set-top box.
Class members who subscribed to Bright House Networks for digital cable at any time between February 2005 and Aug. 19 may be eligible for benefits from the settlement, according to settlement documents filed Aug. 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.
Bright House Networks denied the allegations but agreed to settle the class action lawsuit to avoid the expense and uncertainty of ongoing litigation.
Class members who are current BHN customers will receive a $30 account credit for services not currently subscribed to. To receive this credit, class members must elect the services to which it should be applied by submitting an election form to BHN through the class action settlement website no later than April 15.
Class members who are former customers of BHN must submit a claim form postmarked no later than April 15 in order to receive a $20 cash payment from the settlement fund.
The lawsuit was initially filed by Karen Parsons on Feb. 10, 2009.
Parsons claimed she has been a subscriber to cable television services provided by BHN since at least 2008, and that she purchased digital cable and paid fees for the rental of BHN equipment.
Bright House Networks requires residential premium subscribers to lease one of its set-top boxes as a condition for receiving the full value of their services.
Parsons claimed BHN has market power in cable services that allows it to penalize subscribers who elect not to lease the set-top box and to require subscribers to lease the box to avoid the penalty.
Parson claimed the defendant's conduct violated the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The parties agreed to attorneys fees and litigation costs to be paid in the amount of $3.7 million.
Parsons will receive an incentive award of $5,000.
A final fairness hearing is scheduled for Jan. 30.
Parsons was represented by Joe R. Whatley and W. Tucker Brown of Whatley Kallas LLP; Brian M. Clark and Dennis Pantazis of Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis LLC; and Richard P. Rouco of Quinn, Connor, Weaver, Davies & Rouco.
BHN was represented by Bruce D. Sokler and Ribert G. Kidwell of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo PC; and Samuel H. Franklin and Wesley B. Gilchrist of Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC.
The case was assigned to District Judge Abdul K. Kallon.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama case number: 2:09-cv-00267
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.