W.Va. Supreme Court orders Charter to pay up in 'rate discrimination' suit

The West Virginia Supreme Court has ordered Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) to pay $4.09 million to a competing cable provider, Community Antenna Services, in a dispute going back to 2000 when Charter actually served Wood County, W.Va.

Must be something in that West Virginia mountain air: Suddenlink and FiberNet have been dancing their own doh-see-doh over acquisition issues this year.

The Charter-CAS dispute first went to court in 2008 when CAS argued that Charter was engaging in unfair business practices by offering its customers lower rates than others were asked to pay as part of "CAS buy-back plans" in areas where Charter and CAS competed. Charter lost that case and was ordered to pay $1.15 million for damages, $1.44 million for tortious interference and $1.5 million in punitive damages. The MSO, of course, appealed, even though it had since sold its area systems.

The case wended its way through the judicial system until it reached the Supreme Court where, in a ruling posited by Justice Menis Ketchum, Charter's buy-back plan was called "empty rate discrimination" and the MSO should pay up.

For more:
- the News and Sentinel has this story

Related articles:
Charter follows Cox in raising Virginia cable rates 9 percent
Suddenlink says it's not stealing FiberNet customers

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