Behrend v. Comcast Corp., No. 10-2865 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Comcast‘s share of programming distribution services in the Philadelphia Designated Market Area allegedly grew from 23.9 percent in 1998 to 69.5 percent in 2007. Customers alleged violations of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1 & 2, claiming that Comcast eliminated competition, raised entry barriers, maintained increased prices, and deprived subscribers of lower prices that would result from effective competition. Following a 2008 Third Circuit decision, the district court reconsidered its class certification with respect to Rule 23(b)'s predominance requirement. After taking evidence the court held that plaintiffs demonstrated that: questions of law and fact common to class members predominate; the relevant geographic market could be the Philadelphia Designated Market Area; the class could establish antitrust impact on the theory that clustering through swaps and acquisitions deterred overbuilder competition; plaintiffs' expert provided common evidence to measure damages; and the class could establish antitrust impact through common evidence. The court narrowed class-wide impact to a theory that Comcast engaged in anticompetitive clustering that deterred entry of overbuilders. The Third Circuit affirmed. Plaintiffs established by a preponderance of evidence that they would be able to prove through common evidence class-wide antitrust impact (higher cost on non-basic cable programming), and a common methodology to quantify damages on a class-wide basis.