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Windstream: Time for Charter to ‘Face the Consequences’ of Mailer Impact

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Judge and Gavel

Windstream lost nearly $20 million and 1,400 customers from Charter Communications’ deceptive mailer about its chapter 11 bankruptcy.

That’s according to Windstream’s post-trial memorandum filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. It asks the court to issue a verdict requiring Charter Communications to pay nearly $20 million for its losses, as well as all attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.

Windstream filed chapter 11 bankruptcy last February.

“The time has now come for Charter to face the consequences of its unlawful actions and its frivolous and dilatory conduct of this litigation,” Windstream said in the filing.

David Avery, Windstream’s vice president of corporate affairs, said to expect a court decision next month. Charter declined to comment.

Customer Poaching

In January, 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.

Windstream filed its suit against Charter last spring. It alleged Charter engaged in a “scare-tactic” campaign. The campaign deceived customers into believing Windstream would no longer provide services and was going to liquidate.

Charter appealed the ruling, saying the evidence doesn’t support Windstream’s claims. Windstream didn’t prove that the mailer harmed the company or its affiliates, the cable company said.

In this latest filing, Windstream said nearly 1,400 of its customers switched their service to Charter. As a result, it lost up to $5.1 million in profit.

“Moreover, Windstream was forced to incur significant expenses to mitigate the damage caused by Charter’s false advertising,” it said. “Windstream tasked employees with rectifying Charter’s disconnects and issued customer credits to mollify its disconnected customers. In April 2019, Windstream was forced to launch a corrective advertising campaign to explain to its customers that it was not going out of business.”

In addition, Windstream launched a promotional campaign last September to attract new customers to make up for those who were prevented from subscribing to Windstream. This promotional campaign cost Windstream more than $4 million.

Windstream said Charter has “stubbornly refused to recognize its unlawful conduct (despite bringing suit against DirecTV over the same type of false advertising when it filed itself for bankruptcy [in 2009]) and make Windstream whole for the harm Charter inflicted upon it.”

Windstream anticipates emerging from bankruptcy in late summer.


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