CableOne Drops Claim vs. Ex-GM

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CableOne Inc. has dropped a lawsuit it filed to prevent a former general manager from launching a consulting business for municipal governments.

The operator, owned by The Washington Post Co., sued Jerald Stone in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma last April. CableOne asserted the former regional cable executive would use proprietary information he gleaned as an employee to build his business, called North Center Consulting.

The parties jointly announced Feb. 3 that they would drop their respective lawsuits. They also agreed to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.

"I'm so relieved to get on with my life," Stone said when reached at home. "The lawsuit was very detrimental to my business. The Washington Post
has lots of money for lawyers. I don't."

CableOne's attorney did not return a call requesting comment last week.

Stone, a Ponca City, Okla., resident, said he would move forward with his consulting business. Woodward, Okla., is already a client, he said.

CableOne began investigating the activities of its long-time employee last April, after he abruptly quit. In a suit filed by the MSO, executives said they found indications that Stone had "badmouthed" the operator to Ponca City officials and urged the town to attempt to build its own broadband network.

The operator also believed Stone had interfered with the attempted purchase of an independent Oklahoma operator. After he left the MSO, Stone reappeared as a consultant for that company when negotiations reopened, according to the suit.

The operator lost a round in court last June when it failed in a bid to enjoin Stone from continuing to "misappropriate trade secrets."

U.S. District Court Judge Tim Leonard declined to issue an injunction, concluding the operator did not prove Stone was using information that wasn't available through public sources.

Stone said he has not contracted with Ponca City for consulting services. That municipality is still studying the feasibility of a broadband network.

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