Despite a partial settlement announced last week in a telecommunications lawsuit filed by three Thompson’s Station residents, the majority of the defendants will continue the case.
At the lawsuit’s core are two companies, Crystal Clear Technologies and Carbine & Associates, who have been brought to court by residents of the Tollgate, Bridgemore and Canterbury neighborhoods of Thompson’s Station in addition to several other defendants that include the homeowners associations for each of the three neighborhoods and DirecTV.
The plaintiffs filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nashville that asserts violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act and Federal Communications Commission’s Exclusivity Order, as well as allegations of self-dealing and unjust enrichment.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs assert that Crystal Clear contracted with DirecTV as an “unnecessary middleman,” charging a premium to homeowners for Internet and cable services and denying homeowners the ability to purchase cable or Internet from other market providers.
However, Alex Fardon, co-counsel for Carbine & Associates and Crystal Clear, maintains that neither company has engaged in any illegal activities.
Last week, the plaintiffs announced they had reached a partial settlement with the developer and homeowners association of the Canterbury subdivision, allowing residents of that neighborhood to make their own arrangements to secure TV, Internet and phone service from any willing provider.
“We have not seen the final settlement agreement regarding Canterbury,” reads a statement issued by Crystal Clear in response to the settlement. “We are not a party to that agreement, as we are not a party to any agreements with the Canterbury homeowners. But Hood Development convinced us to invest several hundred thousand dollars in telecommunications infrastructure in Canterbury, and we have done that. The homeowners in Canterbury are now benefitting from that investment.”
“We have no problem competing with other providers on service or price. In fact, AT&T already competes with us in offering Internet services in Canterbury, and Crystal Clear still has most of that business. But we do want to make sure that we are able to recover the investment that we – and no one else – have made in Canterbury based on Hood Development’s commitment to induce us to do so.”
Fardon explained that Hood Development had entered into an arrangement for Crystal Clear to install telecommunication infrastructure in exchange for Crystal Clear becoming the sole telecom provider for a period of time. As a result, Hood Development’s settlement with the plaintiffs has created the potential for a dispute over compensation.
For more than a month now, both parties in the case have awaited a decision by U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. According to Fardon, dismissal for failure to state a claim means that even if everything in the complaint is true, the plaintiffs don’t have a claim as matter of law.
Should the motion for dismissal be denied, the lawsuit will proceed into case management and then discovery.
Benjamin Gastel, attorney for the residents, told the Home Page that none of the arguments made in the defense’s motions to dismiss are particularly shocking and he anticipates the case surviving them.
“I am thrilled that Hood Development has agreed to do what is right for its residents in Canterbury by ending mandatory fees and allowing the residents the option to make their own service arrangements,” said Attorney Ben Gastel, who represents the plaintiffs, following last week’s partial settlement. “Obtaining this kind of relief this quickly after filing a lawsuit is rare and could not have been done without Hood’s commitment to doing what is right for Canterbury’s residents.”
“Although we are proud to announce this settlement, this remains only one battle in this fight and we look forward to holding Crystal Clear and the other defendants responsible for their illegal activities and ending the monopoly in the other two neighborhoods as well.”
Quint Qualls covers Spring Hill for Home Page Media Group. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.