A federal judge has reopened a $20 billion racial bias case filed against Comcast and Time Warner Cable, giving plaintiff Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Networks until Sept. 21 to file an amended complaint.
The lawsuit, first filed in February, also named as defendants the NAACP, the National Urban League, Al Sharpton, the National Action Network, as well as Meredith Attwell Baker, a former Comcast executive and FCC commissioner.
The lawsuit claimed that Comcast was shutting out African-American owned channels from their lineups. In securing approval for its 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal, they reached memorandums of understanding with a number of civil rights groups that were a "sham" to "whitewash Comcast's discriminatory business practices."
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Judge will let Byron Allen's company revive case against Comcast, Al Sharpton
CULVER CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Byron Allen attends The 2014 Baby2Baby Gala, Presented by Tiffany & Co at The Book Bindery on November 8, 2014 in Culver City, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA- SEPTEMBER 19: Comedian/producer Byron Allen (L) and wife Jennifer Lucas attend the 2014 Operation Smile Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on September 19, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 19: Comedian Byron Allen attends the HollyRod Foundation's 16th Annual DesignCare at The Lot Studios on July 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
CENTURY CITY, CA - MAY 02: (L-R) Actor Howie Mandel, producer Jennifer Lucas and comedian Byron Allen attend the 21st annual Race to Erase MS at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on May 2, 2014 in Century City, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 02: Comedians Byron Allen and Tony Rock attend the BET Networks' 2013 Los Angeles Upfront at Montage Beverly Hills on April 2, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for BET)
CENTURY CITY, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Byron Allen arrives for The National Multiple Sclerosis Society's 38th Annual Dinner Of Champions Honors Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on September 24, 2012 in Century City, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
CULVER CITY, CA - AUGUST 12: Byron Allen and family arrive at the 3rd Annual My Brother Charlie Family Fun Festival at Culver Studios on August 12, 2012 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 15: Comedian Byron Allen attends the 100th anniversary celebration of the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows supporting the Motion Picture & Television Fund and the American Comedy Fund hosted by Bill Cosby at the Beverly Hills Hotel on June 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for BHH)
CENTURY CITY, CA - APRIL 29: Comedian Byron Allen (L) and producer Jennifer Lucas arrive at the 18th Annual Race To Erase MS at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on April 29, 2011 in Century City, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Byron Allen during The Rape Treatment Center Annual Brunch Hosted by the Cast of Grey's Anatomy at Private Residence in Beverly Hiils, California, United States. (Photo by Donato Sardella/WireImage)
Brooke Burns and Byron Allen during Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen Launch Party - Inside at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Chris Weeks/WireImage)
Byron Allen during Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen Launch Party - Red Carpet at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Chris Weeks/WireImage)
Byron Allen during 13th Annual Race to Erase MS Sponsored by Nancy Davis and Tommy Hilfiger - Show at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City, California, United States. (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage for PMK/HBH)
CENTURY CITY, CA - FEBRUARY 9: Byron Allen attends 33rd Annual National Hockey League All-Star Dinner on February 9, 1981 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL -- Episode 25 -- Pictured: (l-r) Skip Stephenson, Byron Allen (Photo by Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 1980: Comedian, TV host and producer Byron Allen poses for a portrait in 1980 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images)
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But earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, concluding that the plaintiffs had "failed to allege a plausible claim for relief." On Wednesday, Hatter entered an order, without comment, reopening the case and giving the plaintiffs the opportunity to file an amended complaint.
In a statement, Allen said, "This is an historic case where federal judge Terry Hatter has an enormous opportunity to tell corporate America that the racism and discrimination must stop and the economic inclusion must begin."
Allen said in an interview that the amended complaint will provide "greater detail and greater clarity, and I believe we will prevail." He also said that they plan to file more lawsuits against media conglomerates like this one. The other plaintiff in the Comcast suit is the National Assn. of African American Owned Media.
"We must have economic inclusion and we will hold the entire ecosystem accountable," he said. He added that the lawsuit was of "enormous complexity."
A spokeswoman for Comcast did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has previously called the lawsuit "frivolous," and Sharpton has said there was "no basis" for the litigation.
In its previous complaint, Entertainment Studios Networks charged that Comcast "brazenly stated that it does not want to create any more Black billionaires, such as Bob Johnson, the African American founder of Black Entertainment Television."
Comcast and other defendants, filing in reply, said that the plaintiffs "provide zero detail on the identity of the speaker or the surrounding circumstances is sufficient to show that this alleged statement is not 'direct evidence' of anything. ...To say that the Complaint's allegations are 'implausible' under the applicable pleading standard would be a colossal understatement."
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.