PHILADELPHIA - A group of Comcast consumers was given the green light to settle a class action lawsuit against the cable provider, and plaintiffs attorneys will make $1.1 million.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania approved the settlement on Sept. 24. The plaintiffs asked for class certification and final approval of the settlement, along with attorneys’ fees, reimbursement of expenses and incentive awards to class representatives, which were all granted.
The plaintiffs alleged that Comcast's tying arrangement, requiring a set-top box for subscribers of the premium package, violated the Sherman Act and state laws in Washington, California and West Virginia.
Judge Anita B. Brody ruled on the case.
The court first decided to certify the class after it pointed out that it satisfied the numerosity requirement as roughly 3.5 million people are included in the class. Commonality also exists, the court said.
“Whether Comcast engaged in such conduct and plaintiffs suffered harm as a result are common questions of law and fact,” the court said.
Typicality is also present as the claims of the plaintiffs and the class members concern the same type of behavior from Comcast. The court went on to state that the plaintiffs have found adequate counsel.
“Co-Lead Class Counsel Dianne M. Nast, Kenneth A. Wexler and Stephen A. Corr have been involved in this litigation since its inception and were among the first counsel to file individual complaints before the creation of this MDL,” the court noted.
Considering this and other factors, the court certified the class. It also approved the settlement that suggested that claimants would receive cash payments between $10 and $15 depending on how many months they rented the boxes. The court determined the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate.
The court then ruled on the plaintiffs’ motion for $1,000 each for named class representatives (a total of $4,000) for their involvement in the case. It granted the motion and pointed out that the representatives issued vital information for not only filing the complaint but also negotiating the settlement.
Considering that the plaintiffs requested the $1.1 million for attorneys’ fees and expense reimbursement, the court approved the motion. Comcast did not oppose.
“Because the percentage-of-recovery method and lodestar cross-check demonstrate that the attorneys’ fees request is reasonable, I will approve plaintiffs’ request,” Brody said.
This is one of the most recent settlements with Comcast as countless consumers sued the company with claims that it illegally connected the sale of Premium Cable to the rental of a Set-Top Box from Comcast. The series of lawsuits began as early as 2008.
The plaintiffs in this case launched their first lawsuit in November 2009 and filed the latest Fourth Amended Consolidated Class Action complaint in October 24, 2017.