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Cable company wins favorable U.S. Supreme Court ruling denying plaintiff’s "sham litigation" appeal

April 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 23, 2018, denied the request of a Puerto Rican telecommunications company to hear the appeal of its claims against Jones Day client San Juan Cable, a subsidiary of Liberty Global (the world's largest international TV and broadband company), bringing an end to the long-running antitrust case.

The claims, first filed in 2011 in the United States District Court in Puerto Rico, alleged that San Juan Cable had monopolized a claimed market for cable television service in Puerto Rico through a pattern of "sham litigation" that supposedly was designed to prevent entry into the market by Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC), the monopoly telephone service provider on the island. Jones Day took up defense of the action after the court refused to dismiss the suit. In 2013 and 2014, San Juan Cable moved for summary judgment on two separate legal theories. In 2016, the district court heard oral argument and ultimately granted summary judgment, dismissing the case in its entirety.

On appeal, the First Circuit agreed with our client’s position that PRTC could not show "sham litigation" as a matter of law, and therefore that San Juan Cable's litigation and regulatory activity was immune from antitrust liability. Importantly, the court's opinion noted the theory, adopted by four other circuits, that the immunity attaching to objectively reasonable litigation loses its force in the context of a "pattern" of such suits, holding that such a theory was not available in a setting where each petition in the claimed “pattern” was objectively reasonable.

Despite the filing of an amicus brief by a group of antitrust scholars urging the high court to review PRTC’s appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari.

Puerto Rico Telephone Company, Inc. v. San Juan Cable LLC, No. 3:11-cv-02135 (D.P.R.), No. 16-2132 (1st Cir. 2017), cert. denied (U.S. Apr. 23, 2018) (No. 17-1215)

For additional information about this matter, please contact: Thomas Demitrack, Yaakov M. Roth

Client(s): Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico