July 16, 2019

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Hookah Lounge Has Serious Cable Problems, and Dish Network Will Pay for It

My cable bill seems to go up each month, but I know that if I go back and read my lengthy, small-print cable agreement, somewhere I will be able to find where I agreed to it. I'm sure if I called and complained, one of the first things I would be told is to read my contract. Someone should have told that to the defendant in Joe Hand Promotions Inc. v. The Hookah Lounge Inc., where Judge Bell recently dismissed Dish Network—a third-party defendant—from the lawsuit, finding that Dish Network (a) was not required to indemnify The Hookah Lounge and (b) did not breach its contract with The Hookah Lounge.

In that case, a local hookah lounge here in Grand Rapids showed Ultimate Fighting programs to its customers. The Hookah Lounge paid Dish about $50 for each program. Apparently though, the lounge agreed to a residential cable package; if the lounge had a commercial cable package, the lounge's rate would have been about $900. The Hookah Lounge is now being sued by the distributor of those Ultimate Fighting programs under federal laws. The Hookah Lounge filed a third-party suit against Dish, seeking to pass any liability on to Dish Network by alleging that The Hookah Lounge's owners made it clear to Dish from the outset that the lounge wanted a commercial package.

The court dismissed Dish Network. It said that Dish Network did not breach the parties' contract because it plainly states that the cable package is for "private home viewing" and not "open to the public or in commercial establishments." Also, Dish Network did not have to indemnify the lounge because a party is only entitled to indemnification where it is not actively at fault; here, Joe Hand Promotions alleged that The Hookah Lounge "willfully" and "intentionally" harmed Joe Hand Promotions. For now, then, if The Hookah Lounge ends up being liable, it will have to bear the cost of it.

I have always been told some things are too good to be true. I guess that is another piece of advice that The Hookah Lounge could have used about its cable package.

© 2019 Varnum LLP


About this Author

Kyle Konwinski, Litigation lawyer, Varnum

Kyle’s practice is commercial litigation. He has represented clients in a wide array of litigation, including trials, administrative trials, and on appeal. He has unique experience in environmental/land-use litigation and Employee Retirement Income Security Act litigation. Kyle has recovered millions of dollars for companies throughout the state that were victims of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's ERISA violations.

As for the environmental and land use area, Kyle has trial and appellate experience with contested case hearings in the Michigan Administrative...