Comcast, Modesto Spar On


Declaring that Comcast Corp. is “more concerned with earning a profit for its shareholders than fulfilling its legal obligation to protect the safety of its subscribers in the city of Modesto,” that California city has filed a countersuit against the operator in their ongoing dispute over faulty cable grounding.

The municipality Friday asked a federal-court judge to declare the operation a “public nuisance.” The city also alleged that the operator committed fraud when it reported to regulators that bad electrical connections were being repaired.

Modesto seeks a preliminary injunction from the court that would require corrected electrical connections by Jan. 1. After that, Comcast would be required to remove equipment from any address that is not properly grounded.

City manager Jack Crist said in a prepared statement, "The city will not permit an ongoing, intentional fraud to be committed against the city and its residents.”

The countersuit -- filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Fresno Division -- is in response to the June 30 action filed by the cable company.

The plaintiff, Comcast of California XII, alleged that the $1 million penalty approved by Modesto in June is excessive and is a tool to extract institutional-network concessions from the operator.

Comcast’s suits alleged that city officials offered to drop the fines and extend the make-good deadline on the electrical faults to Dec. 31, 2004, if Comcast would kick in $1.3 million in I-net support.

Comcast also asserted that it was given incorrect progress reports on grounding repairs by contractors hired by its predecessor, AT&T Broadband, to correct the faulty connections.