Tollgate Village developer, DirecTV, at center of resident lawsuit


Tollgate Village developer, DirecTV, at center of resident lawsuit

Residents of three different Thompson’s Station neighborhoods have sued developers of their neighborhoods, accusing them of preventing competition for Internet and cable television providers.

Residents of three different Thompson’s Station neighborhoods filed suit this week against developers of their neighborhoods, DirecTV and three homeowners associations, alleging a conspiracy to prevent competition for Internet and cable television providers.

Franklin-based Carbine & Associates LLC, developer of Tollgate Village and Bridgemore Village in Thompson’s Station, created Crystal Clear Technologies to provide television and Internet services to the neighborhoods in the rural town.

Carbine has had several developments throughout Williamson County over the years, and began developing the nearly 1,500 homes in Tollgate Village around the beginning of the recession in 2008.

The lawsuit claims Crystal Clear contracted with DirecTV for telecommunications services, charged a premium to homeowners for Internet and cable services for which it acted as an unnecessary middleman, denied homeowners access to promotional pricing at DirecTV, and denied homeowners the ability to purchase cable or Internet from other market providers.

Also mentioned in the suit was Hood Development, LLC, who created the Canterbury neighborhood in Thompson’s Station. The suit alleges that the Canterbury homeowners’ association entered into a similar arrangement with Crystal Clear.

There’s no choice for who they receive their telecommunications service,” said Benjamin Gastel with Branstetter, Stranch, and Jennings PLLC. He is representing homeowners Courtney Cates, Brian Stover and Jason Miller, who live in the three neighborhoods. They will also represent a class of homeowners from each neighborhood.

They were told they had to use this and bound through the homeowners association. There’s a lot of neighborhoods like this being put in Williamson County and neighborhoods in the state. I am unfamiliar with any other developer doing this to provide service to his development.”

In the last year and a half, the communications issue emerged before the Thompson’s Station Board of Mayor Alderman, who then created a telecommunications task force to investigate what the town could do about the complaints, if anything. AT&T and Charter Communications already exist within the town in some neighborhoods.

“With this parabolic growth, we kept getting complaints about service and speed,” Mayor Corey Napier said. “But it’s a private contract, just like landscaping or roofing. So there was nothing we could do about it. This was an educational process for everyone, and we know what we can and cannot do to provide these services. Sitting here watching it, I am empathetic, but it’s all up to the service provider.”

The suit claimed that these agreements were not designed to benefit homeowners within the three neighborhoods. That sentiment run true for Thompson’s Station Alderman Graham Shepard, who lives in Tollgate Village. He said that from the beginning in buying his house, he and others didn’t know that Crystal Clear would become their internet provider. They also didn’t know that they would have to pay for the service each month regardless of their usage.

That’s the first surprise,” he said. “After people close, they tell you what a wonderful deal this internet will be, and it upsets people they can’t choose. If it was such a wonderful thing they would advertise it.”

Plaintiffs also charged that Crystal Clear gained a monopoly over television and Internet services that provided Carbine and Hood with an additional revenue stream they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“As counsel for Crystal Clear Technologies LLC, we just obtained a copy of the complaint this morning,” said Craig V. Gabbert, Jr. with Harwell Howard Hyne Gabbert & Manner, P.C. He will represent the company in the lawsuit.

“Our client has not even been served with the lawsuit papers at this time. Although we cannot yet comment on specifics, Crystal Clear believes many of the assertions plaintiffs have made are just factually wrong, and that the lawsuit has no merit.”

The lawsuit will have its first day in court on March 21 before Judge Aleta Arthur Trauger, a United States federal judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Emily West covers Franklin for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

Residents of three different Thompson’s Station neighborhoods filed suit this week against developers of their neighborhoods, DirecTV and three homeowners associations, alleging a conspiracy to prevent competition for Internet and cable television providers.

Franklin-based Carbine & Associates LLC, developer of Tollgate Village and Bridgemore Village in Thompson’s Station, created Crystal Clear Technologies to provide television and Internet services to the neighborhoods in the rural town.

Carbine has had several developments throughout Williamson County over the years, and began developing the nearly 1,500 homes in Tollgate Village around the beginning of the recession in 2008.

The lawsuit claims Crystal Clear contracted with DirecTV for telecommunications services, charged a premium to homeowners for Internet and cable services for which it acted as an unnecessary middleman, denied homeowners access to promotional pricing at DirecTV, and denied homeowners the ability to purchase cable or Internet from other market providers.

Also mentioned in the suit was Hood Development, LLC, who created the Canterbury neighborhood in Thompson’s Station. The suit alleges that the Canterbury homeowners’ association entered into a similar arrangement with Crystal Clear.

There’s no choice for who they receive their telecommunications service,” said Benjamin Gastel with Branstetter, Stranch, and Jennings PLLC. He is representing homeowners Courtney Cates, Brian Stover and Jason Miller, who live in the three neighborhoods. They will also represent a class of homeowners from each neighborhood.

They were told they had to use this and bound through the homeowners association. There’s a lot of neighborhoods like this being put in Williamson County and neighborhoods in the state. I am unfamiliar with any other developer doing this to provide service to his development.”

In the last year and a half, the communications issue emerged before the Thompson’s Station Board of Mayor Alderman, who then created a telecommunications task force to investigate what the town could do about the complaints, if anything. AT&T and Charter Communications already exist within the town in some neighborhoods.

“With this parabolic growth, we kept getting complaints about service and speed,” Mayor Corey Napier said. “But it’s a private contract, just like landscaping or roofing. So there was nothing we could do about it. This was an educational process for everyone, and we know what we can and cannot do to provide these services. Sitting here watching it, I am empathetic, but it’s all up to the service provider.”

The suit claimed that these agreements were not designed to benefit homeowners within the three neighborhoods. That sentiment run true for Thompson’s Station Alderman Graham Shepard, who lives in Tollgate Village. He said that from the beginning in buying his house, he and others didn’t know that Crystal Clear would become their internet provider. They also didn’t know that they would have to pay for the service each month regardless of their usage.

That’s the first surprise,” he said. “After people close, they tell you what a wonderful deal this internet will be, and it upsets people they can’t choose. If it was such a wonderful thing they would advertise it.”

Plaintiffs also charged that Crystal Clear gained a monopoly over television and Internet services that provided Carbine and Hood with an additional revenue stream they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“As counsel for Crystal Clear Technologies LLC, we just obtained a copy of the complaint this morning,” said Craig V. Gabbert, Jr. with Harwell Howard Hyne Gabbert & Manner, P.C. He will represent the company in the lawsuit.

“Our client has not even been served with the lawsuit papers at this time. Although we cannot yet comment on specifics, Crystal Clear believes many of the assertions plaintiffs have made are just factually wrong, and that the lawsuit has no merit.”

The lawsuit will have its first day in court on March 21 before Judge Aleta Arthur Trauger, a United States federal judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Emily West covers Franklin for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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