Man's suit against Charter Communications for allegedly selling his personal info to third-parties is dismissed

By Charmaine Little | Apr 2, 2019

ST. LOUIS – Alex Michael’s claims that Charter Communications Inc. sent his personal information to third-party companies were dismissed in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Missouri for the Eastern Division on March 27.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Bodenhausen ruled on the case that Michael's claims under the Cable Communications Act and time barred and also dismissed his state law claims.

Michael attempted to launch a class action against Charter Communications with allegations that it failed to inform him about subscribers’ fees and that it sold his personally identifiable information (PII) such as his name, address and subscription details to third parties during and after his subscription.

Michael subscribed to Charter Communications between July 2007 and May 2009, the ruling states. He accused Charter Communications of violating the Cable Communications Act of 1984, 47 U.S.C. section 441, and the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). He also filed common-law claims in relation to conversion and unjust enrichment.

Specifically, the counts he sued for are: Charter Communications’ alleged failure to deliver privacy notifications during his subscription (count one) and a minimum of a year after he ended his subscription (count two). He also alleged Charter Communications did not clearly state privacy notifications, if they were in fact presented (count three), and that the defendant did not get his consent before issuing his PII (count four). He also alleged Charter Communications didn’t offer its subscribers the chance to stop or limit distribution of their information (count five) and violated the MMPA when it offered the subscription without notifying him his information would be sold (count six). For the final counts, Michael claims conversion (count seven) and unjust enrichment (count eight).

Michael’s lawsuit was already at risk of being dismissed for failing to prove diversity jurisdiction. 

“Nowhere in his pleadings does plaintiff cite diversity of citizenship as the basis of this court’s subject matter jurisdiction nor has he made the required factual allegations regarding the citizenship of all parties and the amount in controversy,” Bodenhausen wrote. “Thus, to the extent that plaintiff now insists that his action arises under diversity jurisdiction, it is subject to dismissal without prejudice.”

Bodenhausen added that even if Michael did his due diligence and properly pleaded diversity jurisdiction, there’s an issue of the Cable Act claims being outside of the statute of limitations. While Michael had an issue with the court addressing the statute without a motion from Charter Communications, the court pointed out that the defendant actually did argue that his claims were barred due to statute of limitations.

Bodenhausen pointed out that the first three counts accrued during his subscription with Charter Communications. Even though Michael said he didn’t know that Charter was obligated to provide notice until December 2016, the judge said this is irrelevant. Bodenhausen applied the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) that has a one-year statute of limitation and said the first three counts are time-barred.

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