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Charter Fights Ruling It Engaged in Windstream Customer Poaching

Judge and Gavel

Charter Communications is appealing a court ruling that it tried to poach Windstream customers through a deceptive mailer about its competitor’s chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Last month, New York Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain issued a partial summary judgment finding Charter liable for violations of the federal Lanham Act and state laws for using false advertising to try to convince Windstream customers that its bankruptcy filing meant they could lose their services, according to a Law360 report.

Windstream, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last February, filed its suit last spring in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. It alleged Charter engaged in a “scare-tactic” campaign to deceive customers into believing it would no longer provide services and was going to liquidate.

Charter is appealing the ruling, saying the evidence doesn’t support Windstream’s claims. It argues Windstream failed to establish that it and its affiliates were harmed by the mailer.

Charter couldn’t be reached for comment.

Windstream's David Avery

Windstream’s David Avery

David Avery, Windstream’s vice president of corporate affairs, tells Channel Partners last month’s ruling was positive for Windstream in that the judge found Charter is liable for the false advertising, and Windstream must now only prove damages.

“However … this is a preliminary ruling from the bench, and the judge is continuing his review to determine if there are any needed corrections for clarity, organization or reasoning,” he said. “Charter recently filed ‘appeals’ to the judge’s ruling, but the ruling is not final, and the parties must await on the final decision from the judge.”

A hearing on damages is scheduled for late March or early April, Avery said.

The court previously issued a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order against Charter.

Windstream now has until April to submit its reorganization plan to emerge from chapter 11 bankruptcy. Drain rejected Windstream’s request for an extension to May 31 to file its plan, and instead set an April deadline.


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