A small independent ISP in Texas has filed a lawsuit against Comcast claiming that the telecom giant intentionally severed its lines after refusing a buyout offer.
Anthony Luna, the owner of Telecom Cable, is suing Comcast and its contracted agents, Aspen Utility and A&A Cable Contractors, for $1 million. According to Courthouse News, the cable provider and its agents disrupted service to Luna's 229 customers during infrastructure construction and subsequently put him out of business. The lawsuit is also seeking mental anguish and exemplary damages, which could tack on another $750,000 in damages.
Luna claims that when Comcast began expanding into Weston Lakes in 2013, it initiated talks to buy Telecom Cable. After nearly a year of negotiations, a fair offer could not be met, so Comcast "walked away" from the table and pressed forward with its expansion. Having established a solid customer base, Luna did not object to the competition.
In 2015, when he learned that the brand name ISP wanted to lay lines in his customer's utility easements, he took special care to have his cables marked with orange paint and flags. This practice is an accepted industry standard for indicating that live utility lines are below the markings. He also sent them a map of his infrastructure.
“Whether it was intentional, negligent or grossly negligent, they put Telecom out of business and turned Luna’s life upside-down."
Despite the clear markings, one of the contractors, A&A, severed a Telecom mainline. When Luna began hearing of outages to his customers, he went to the job site to ascertain what happened. The foreman he spoke to acknowledged that they had seen the markings, but had "assumed that the fresh orange paint marked an abandoned cable plant.”
Luna had the line repaired and tried to contact Comcast. Over the next six weeks, Luna attempted to get in touch with someone in charge of the installation, but never reached anyone who knew what was going on with the job. During this time the contractors severed three more marked lines completely destroying Telecom’s infrastructure.
“One would like to believe that the destruction was accidental,” states the lawsuit. “But the comprehensiveness of it – coupled with Comcast’s prior interest in Telecom – renders such a conclusion doubtful.”
Luna attempted to repair the extensive damages, but the repairs took too long. By August 1, 2015, Luna had lost his entire customer base. Comcast now serves Weston Lakes, including all of Luna's former clients.
Comcast VP Ray Purser said in a statement to Ars Technica, "We disagree with Telecom’s claim and will vigorously defend ourselves." The company had no further comment and has not filed an official response to Luna's lawsuit.