Articles Posted in Communications Law

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The County petitions for review of an FCC order, which issued rules implementing Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, 47 U.S.C. 1455(a), also known as the Spectrum Act. The County contends that the procedures established in the Order conscript the states in violation of the Tenth Amendment, and that the Order unreasonably defines several terms of the Spectrum Act. The court concluded that the FCC’s “deemed granted” procedure comports with the Tenth Amendment where the Order does not require the states to take any action whatsoever. The court also concluded that the FCC has reasonably interpreted the ambiguous terms of Section 6409(a): "substantially change" and "base station." Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Montgomery County v. United States" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a disagreement between CoreTel and Verizon over interconnection agreements (ICAs) under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 151 et seq. CoreTel disputes the district court’s determination that it owes Verizon $227,974.22 for the use of Verizon’s telecommunications facilities and $138,724.47 in late-payment fees. The court concluded that the district court did not violate the court's own mandate in CoreTel I by awarding as damages any total element long-run incremental cost (TELRIC)-based facilities charges at all; the district court did not err in calculating the total amount owed; and the district court did not err in calculating the late fees CoreTel owes under the ICAs. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "CoreTel Virginia, LLC v. Verizon Virginia, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law

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The Board of Supervisors of Pittsylvania County, Virginia met twice per month. At the beginning of each meeting, a member of the Board opened the proceedings with an invocation, usually explicitly Christian in nature, and asked the audience to stand for the prayers. Hudson is a non-Christian resident of Pittsylvania County who has attended nearly every Board meeting and alleges that the Christian prayers made her and other non-Christian citizens of Pittsylvania County feel unwelcome. Hudson filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging violation of the Establishment Clause. The district court entered summary judgment for Hudson and permanently enjoined Pittsylvania “from repeatedly opening its meetings with prayers associated with any one religion,” and struck the case from the active docket while retaining jurisdiction. Hudson sought attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $59,679.92.1. A magistrate judge recommended an award of $53,229.92 and the district court adopted the recommendation. Pittsylvania filed a notice of appeal and a motion to stay the proceedings pending the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014), 175 days after the court entered its order. The Fourth Circuit dismissed the merits appeal as untimely and affirmed the award of fees. View "Hudson v. Pittsylvania Cnty, Va." on Justia Law

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This case arose from a dispute between CoreTel and Verizon regarding their respective responsibilities under an interconnection agreement (ICA), a private contract that implements duties imposed by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 151 et seq. Each party contended that the other improperly billed it for various services. The district court granted summary judgment in Verizon's favor on each claim. The court concluded that CoreTel was entitled to summary judgment in its favor on both its and Verizon's claims for declaratory relief relating to Verizon's facilities charges where the ICA entitled CoreTel to order entrance facilities for interconnection at TELRIC. The court remanded for consideration of CoreTel's claim for injunctive relief. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on CoreTel's facilities claims where the facilities CoreTel provided were not entrance facilities under ICA 1.25 and CoreTel pointed to no provision of the ICA that authorized it to simply levy facilities charges for any piece of equipment that handled Verizon's traffic. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in Verizon's favor on CoreTel's reciprocal compensation claims. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in Verizon's favor on Verizon's switched-access claims.View "CoreTel Virginia, LLC v. Verizon Virginia, LLC" on Justia Law

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T-Mobile filed suit under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 332(c)(7)(B), challenging the Board's denial of T-Mobile's application for permits to build two telecommunications towers in Loudoun County - one disguised as a bell tower and one disguised as a silo on a farm. The district court concluded that the Board improperly denied T-Mobile's application for the silo tower and affirmed the Board's decision denying permits for the bell tower. The court concluded that the Board's decision to deny T-Mobile's Bell Tower Site application was supported by substantial evidence; did not have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services in view of the possibility of other alternatives; and was not made on the basis of health concerns about radio frequency emissions. In regards to the Silo Site, the court concluded that while the aesthetic concerns that the Board gave for denying T-Mobile's application were supported by substantial evidence, its decision to base the denial of T-Mobile's application on improper environmental concerns about radio frequency emissions was prohibited by the Act. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "T-Mobile Northeast LLC v. The Loudoun Cty. Bd." on Justia Law

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This case arose from a dispute over Core's interconnection agreement with Verizon. On appeal, Core challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment to Verizon with respect to tort claims pursued by Core under Maryland law. Core also contended that the district court erred when it awarded nominal damages to Core on its related claim for breach of contract (Reconsideration Order). The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in permitting Verizon to raise the Exculpatory Clause, post-remand, in the summary judgment proceedings; the district court did not err in enforcing the Exculpatory Clause in the consolidated proceedings where the Clause was not void under principles of Maryland contract law; the district court did not err in awarding Verizon summary judgment on Core's state law tort claims for concealment and unfair competition where Core failed to establish that Verizon acted with intent to defraud or deceive; and the district court properly entered judgment on Core's breach of contract claim in the nominal sum of one dollar. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Core Communications, Inc. v. Verizon Maryland, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against the State Board, alleging that it violated his First Amendment rights by causing him to self-censor certain speech on his website wherein he offered both free and fee-based dietary advice to website visitors. The court reversed the district court's holding that plaintiff did not have standing to bring these claims. The court concluded that the district court erred in not analyzing plaintiff's claims under the First Amendment standing framework where, under that analysis, plaintiff satisfied the injury-in-fact requirement by showing that the State Board's action had an objectively reasonable chilling effect on his speech. The court also concluded that plaintiff's claims were ripe for adjudication. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cooksey v. Futrell" on Justia Law

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Sprint entered into interconnection agreements with incumbent local exchange carriers (CenturyLink Plaintiffs) providing for the mutual exchange of telecommunications traffic pursuant to the provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 151 et seq. When Sprint began to withhold payments under the agreement, CenturyLink brought a breach of contract claim in federal district court. The court held that the 1996 Act did not require a State commission to interpret and enforce an interconnection agreement (ICA) in the first instance; neither the text of the 1996 Act nor prudential considerations compelled federal deference to State commissions in the first instance; the district court judge's ownership of shares in plaintiff did not constitute a financial interest in plaintiff for purposes of 28 U.S.C. 455(b); the district court did not violate the recusal statute and therefore did not abuse his discretion in deciding that neither recusal nor vacatur was appropriate; when viewed in conjunction with the ambiguity in the ICA's coverage of voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) traffic over Feature Group D (FGD) trunks, the parties' course of dealing reinforced the court's conclusion that the district court did not err in entering judgment for plaintiff on its breach of contract claim; and, in the face of ambiguity, the court construed the relevant provisions of the North Carolina ICA against Sprint and in favor of plaintiff. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Central Telephone Co. v. Sprint Communications Co." on Justia Law

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Southern Walk, a homeowners association, brought this action seeking a declaratory judgment against OpenBand, the corporation with which it had contracted in 2001 for wire-based video services. Southern Walk alleged that the 2007 Exclusivity Order issued by the FCC rendered "null and void" OpenBand's exclusive rights under the 2001 contracts to provide such wire-based video services to Southern Walk homeowners. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court to the extent that it held that Southern Walk failed to allege facts supporting standing in this case, but vacated that judgment to the extent that it dismissed the case with prejudice, and remanded with instructions to dismiss without prejudice. The court affirmed the district court's denial of attorney's fees to OpenBand. View "Southern Walk at Broadlands v. Openband at Broadlands, LLC" on Justia Law

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The homeowners association sued OpenBand, a group of interlocking entities that provided cable services to Lansdowne real estate development. The homeowners alleged that OpenBand entered into a series of contracts that conferred upon Open Band the exclusive right to provide video services to the the development, in violation of an order of the FCC prohibiting such exclusivity arrangements. Because the contract prohibited competing cable providers from accessing the Lansdowne development in patent violation of the FCC's Order, the court affirmed the district court's judgment declaring the challenged provisions null and void and permanently enjoining their enforcement. View "Lansdowne on the Potomac Homeowners Assoc. v. Openband at Lansdowne, LLC" on Justia Law