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Class action against cable co. reinstated

 The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a federal District Court judge’s decision to dismiss a class action against Charter Communications for failing to provide credits to its customers for their loss of cable, Internet and telephone service during a snowstorm.

Charter asserted that the Massachusetts law, G.L.c. 166A, §5 — and identical language in its licensing agreements — required the company to provide credits or rebates only to subscribers who asked for them.

“We reject this claim as inconsistent with the statute’s actual language,” Judge William J. Kayatta Jr. wrote for the unanimous 1st Circuit panel. “The language imposes no such limitation, instead flatly imposing a duty to provide a credit or rebate to any subscriber whose service is interrupted for sufficient duration.”

While the panel held that the plaintiffs could not sue under a third-party beneficiary theory, Chapter 93A “provided an alternative path to a similar destination.”

Specifically, the 1st Circuit found that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 2001 decision in Casavant v. Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd. “makes clear that a failure by Charter to pay a credit in accord with its statutorily-imposed contractual obligation would likely violate Chapter 93A.”

The 22-page decision is Cooper, et al. v. Charter Communications Entertainments I, LLC, et al.

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