NY Court Grants Dish Stay in Voom Case

A New York appeals court has granted Dish Network a stay in litigation involving the former Voom HD channels, a move that could give the satellite giant more time to pursue other appeals in the case.
The New York Appellate Division - First Department granted Dish Network's motion for a stay in its litigation with Voom on Feb. 15. Voom sued Dish about three years ago after Dish (then called EchoStar Communications) canceled an earlier agreement between the two companies. Dish had claimed that Voom breached its pact by not investing the agreed-upon amount in the channels, which Voom disputed. Voom later sued asking for $2.5 billion in damages.
On Nov. 3, presiding judge Richard Lowe issued a scathing opinion on the matter and granted Voom's motion to include an "adverse inference" instruction to the jury when the case goes to trial. That instruction, according to several observers, is potentially devastating to Dish's case because it instructs the jury that Dish had destroyed evidence that was material to the litigation.
The most recent stay does not have any effect on the adverse inference instruction, but it does give Dish more time to pursue an appeal of that segment of the case. The stay, common in these types of cases, only gives Dish time to make its appeal, it is no guarantee that such an appeal will be granted.
Voom was formed in 2003 by Cablevision Systems chairman Charles Dolan and is still part of its Rainbow Media programming unit, which distributes some of the Voom channels internationally.
The court, in its brief ruling Feb. 15, did not say when a trial would commence on the matter, but added that the stay was granted on the condition that an appeal is perfected on or before March 21. Some people familiar with the matter said that the trial was originally expected to begin sometime in April. With the most recent stay, that date is likely to be delayed.
"We are pleased that the New York Appellate Division - First Department has granted Dish Network's motion for a stay of the court's Nov. 3, 2010, Order and the trial in this matter until the court has had an opportunity to decide the merits of Dish Network's appeal from that Order," Dish Network said in a statement. "We respectfully believe that portions of the Nov. 3, 2010, Order were incorrectly decided and, upon a full review by the First Department, should be reversed."
Cablevision declined to comment.