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Judge tosses lawsuit against Charter over Disney dispute

A federal judge in Florida has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a customer of Charter Communications’ Spectrum TV cable service over a programming-related dispute that saw the removal of more than a dozen networks owned by the Walt Disney Company.

The dispute, now resolved, left Spectrum TV customers unable to watch ESPN, FX, National Geographic, the Disney Channel and some ABC-owned local TV stations for a little more than a week, which prevented cable customers from watching some college football and U.S. Open tennis tournament events.

The situation angered Jen Gonzalez, a Spectrum TV customer based in Florida, who sued Charter on allegations that the pay TV provider was charging customers for channels they could no longer receive. The lawsuit sought class-action status on behalf of similarly aggrieved Spectrum TV subscribers who felt they were paying for ABC, ESPN and other channels they weren’t able to watch.

Last Thursday, a Florida judge assigned to the case acted on her own motion to dismiss the matter, saying an amended complaint filed earlier in the week failed to state why the federal court in Florida had jurisdiction over the matter. The amended complaint cited various Florida consumer protection laws, but virtually no federal statutes.

The lawsuit was dismissed “without prejudice, which means it can be re-filed by Gonzalez at a later date, so long as the plaintiff does so within the statute of limitations and corrects the deficiencies in the amended complaint.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Gonzalez plans to re-file her lawsuit. On Monday, Charter and Disney announced the two sides had reached a new distribution agreement that saw most — but not all — of the affected channels restored to Spectrum TV. The deal also includes access to two Disney-owned streaming services, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, as part of Spectrum TV’s programming packages.

Some affected Spectrum TV customers who complained about the missing Disney-owned channels received $15 bill credits when they reached Spectrum TV’s customer support by phone or social media during the dispute. This week, Charter agreed to extend the $15 bill credits to all affected Spectrum TV customers, whether they contacted the company or not.