Crane Files Fraud Suit Against Former Astros Owner, ComcastNBCU over CSN Houston

Houston Astros ownership has filed a lawsuit against the MLB team's former owner and Comcast/NBCUniversal, a partner in and operator of Comcast SportsNet Houston, alleging fraud and civil conspiracy relative to the embattled regional sports network.

Astros owner Jim Crane's Houston Baseball Partners' action, filed on Nov. 21 and assigned to 80th Texas state District Judge Larry Weiman, accuses former club owner Drayton McClane and Comcast/NBCU  of selling the network that "they knew to be overpriced and broken." The lawsuit says Crane was "duped" when he bought McLane's interest in the network, as part of the $615 million he paid for the club, by making"knowing misrepresentations" and stating "falsely inflated subscription rates."

Seeking a jury trial, the suit wants the court to order McClane's McLane Champions corporation to repay Crane's group for losses that have resulted from alleged breaches of the group's purchase agreement, stemming from rights fees unpaid by the RSN, which has only been able to reach carriage deals with providers reaching 40% of the Houston DMA. The suit — which also cites Jon Litner, group presidet of NBC Sports Group, of false and misleading claims about the achievability of CSN Houston's business plan tied to subscriber fees — also asks for undetermined damages, as well as interest and exemplary damages and attorneys' fees.

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