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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this qui tam action filed under the Minnesota False Claims Act, Minn. Stat. 15C.02 (MFCA), claiming that Respondents intentionally failed to pay fees and surcharges due to the State, holding that Appellant failed to state a claim as a matter of law. The fees and surcharges that were the subject of this litigation were imposed by statute for 911 services, the Telecommunications Access Minnesota (TAM) program, and the Telephone Assistance Plan (TAP) program. Respondents, telecommunications carriers, moved for dismissal, arguing that the 911, TAM, and TAP charges were all taxes and, therefore, dismissal was warranted because the MCFA does not allow qui tam actions based on “claims, records, or statements made under portions of Minnesota Statues relating to taxation,” Minn. Stat. 15C.03. The court of appeals agreed that the 911, TAM, and TAP surcharges were taxes, and therefore, this claim was prohibited by the tax bar provided in the MFCA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, as the statutes at issue are currently written, the 911 fee, TAM charge, and TAP surcharges are taxes, and therefore, this action was barred. View "Phone Recovery Services, LLC v. Qwest Corp." on Justia Law

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Fulton’s Linden, Michigan dental practice filed a purported class action, alleging that it received a fax from Defendants that was an unsolicited advertisement under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227, that failed to include the requisite opt-out provision. The district court dismissed, finding that the fax was not an advertisement under the TCPA. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Fulton plausibly alleged that the fax was an unsolicited advertisement by alleging that the fax served as a pretext to send Fulton additional marketing materials. The fax stated that it was a Fax Verification Request to update contact information for sending clinical summaries, prescription renewals, and other sensitive communications. The fax provided space for recipients either to validate or update contact information. It had a signature line and room for comments and included a phone number and a URL for a website of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Fulton’s allegation that providing verified contact information paves the way for Defendants’ customers to “send additional marketing faxes to recipients” finds some support in the FAQs, which confirm that Defendants’ customers use the system to “invite [providers] to become part of a provider network” and “send[] important notifications,” among “other uses.” View "Fulton v. Enclarity, Inc." on Justia Law

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In October 2014, Kentucky Educational Television (KET) hosted a debate between the candidates for one of Kentucky’s seats in the U.S. Senate. KET limited the debate to candidates who qualified for the ballot, had collected at least $100,000 in campaign contributions, and had an independent poll indicating that at least one in 10 Kentuckians planned to vote for them. The criteria excluded Patterson, the Libertarian Party candidate. The district court rejected a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 by Patterson and the Party, noting that, with relatively few limits, KET could invite to its debates whomever it wanted. KET was not required to create—let alone publish—any criteria at all. KET restricted who could appear in a televised debate, not on the ballot. The debate criteria had nothing to do with a candidate’s views; rather, they measured whether voters had shown an objective interest in hearing the candidate. View "Libertarian National Committee, Inc. v. Holiday" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied WCX's petition for review of the FCC's order denying its application for review to apply the Automatic Roaming Rule to its dispute. The court held that any alleged error that the Commission may have made in stating that WCX requested Mobile Broadband Internet Access Services was harmless and therefore did not warrant vacatur; the Commission did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in concluding that the Data Roaming Rule applied to this dispute; and the Commission's determination that AT&T's proposed rates were commercially reasonable was supported by substantial evidence and not arbitrary and capricious. View "Worldcall Interconnect, Inc. v. FCC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting Las Vegas Review-Journal’s amended petition for a writ of mandamus under the Nevada Public Records Act requesting that the district court compel the Clark County School District (CCSD) to disclose certain records requested by the Review-Journal, holding that the district court did not err by ordering disclosure of the records, but reversed the court’s redaction order and remanded this case for further proceedings. At issue was CCSD employee complaints alleging inappropriate behavior, including sexual harassment, by an elected trustee. After an investigation was launched into the issue, the Review-Journal sought records regarding the investigation. After reviewing CCSD’s withheld documents and privilege log, the district court granted the Review-Journal’s writ of mandamus regarding the withheld records. In its redaction order, the district court only ordered that the names of direct victims of sexual harassment or alleged sexual harassment, students, and support staff may be redacted. The Supreme Court noted that the list excluded teachers or witnesses that may face backlash for being part of the investigation and then adopted a two-part burden-shifting test to determine the scope of redaction of names of persons identified in the investigative report with nontrivial privacy claims and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Clark County School District v. Las Vegas Review-Journal" on Justia Law

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At issue was the extent to which Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-256(b)(2) imposes a tax on gross earnings from a satellite television operator’s business operations in Connecticut, including the transmission of video programming, the sale and lease of equipment required to view that programming, the installation and maintenance of such equipment, DVR services, and payment related fees. The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgments of the trial court sustaining in part Plaintiff’s tax appeals and ordering a refund of taxes previously paid on earnings from the sale of certain goods and services, holding (1) the trial court did not err in determining that Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-268i does not provide the exclusive procedure for challenging a tax assessment for a tax period that has been the subject of an audit; (2) section 12-256(b)(2) imposes a tax on gross earnings from the transmission of video programming by satellite and certain payment related fees, but not the sale, lease, installation, or maintenance of equipment or DVR service; and (3) the trial court did not err in determining that Plaintiff was not entitled to interest on the refund pursuant to section 12-268c. View "Dish Network, LLC v. Commissioner of Revenue Services" on Justia Law

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The 1993 Lucasville Prison Riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility began when prisoners overpowered a guard and took his keys. Rioting prisoners ultimately took a dozen guards hostage and gained complete control of the prison’s L-block. The riot continued for 11 days; one guard and nine prisoners were murdered. Many were injured. Tens of millions of dollars’ worth of damage was done to the prison facility. Four prisoners were sentenced to death for their involvement in the riot and are classified as restricted population inmates, who “pose a direct threat to the safety of persons, including themselves, or an elevated, clear[,] and ongoing threat to the safe and secure operations of the facility. The Media Plaintiffs are professional journalists who unsuccessfully sought in-person, recorded interviews with the Prisoner Plaintiffs for the twentieth anniversary of the riot. The Prisoners and Media Plaintiffs filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the interview denials violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments because they were based on the interviews’ anticipated content. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the rejection of their claims after considering the “Turner factors” to determine that the prison regulation is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests and therefore constitutional. There is a rational connection between a policy prohibiting face-to-face interviews with Lucasville participants and the legitimate, neutral penological interest of prison security. The impact of accommodation of the right and the availability of ready alternatives also support the restrictions’ constitutionality. View "Hanrahan v. Mohr" on Justia Law

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FC appealed the district court's judgment in favor of Qwest, finding FC was liable for tortious interference with Qwest's contractual relationship with Tekstar. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not err in finding that FC caused Tekstar to breach its tariff with Qwest; the breach was material; FC's justification defense was rejected where the district court did not clearly err in finding that, prior to contracting with Tekstar, FC was on notice that it was not an end user and that Tekstar would violate its tariff by charging Qwest tariff rates for FC’s traffic; the district court's conclusion was not precluded by collateral estoppel; the district court did not clearly err in finding that the nearly $1 million Qwest paid to AT&T and other long-distance carriers to route FC's traffic flowed directly from FC's tortious interference; and there was no error in the district court's award of attorney's fees to Qwest. View "Qwest Communications Co. v. Free Conferencing Corp." on Justia Law

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Thomas was arrested on charges that she “knowingly attempted to provide material support . . . to a designated foreign terrorist organization,” 18 U.S.C. 2339B. Thomas unsuccessfully moved for a bill of particulars and to compel notice and discovery of surveillance. Thomas pled guilty. Access to several documents on the docket was restricted. Philly Declaration moved to intervene and obtain access to all records on the docket, transcripts of Thomas’s plea hearing and her ex parte presentation to the court regarding the motions, and search warrant materials. The prosecution agreed that certain records should be largely unsealed but maintained that the “Plea Document” that was docketed with the publicly-filed guilty plea memorandum should remain under seal for reasons detailed in a sealed addendum and objected to unsealing a “Grand Jury exhibit” attached to Thomas’s reply brief in support of her motion for a bill of particulars and to unredacting quotes and citations that appeared in the Reply Brief itself. The district court ruled in favor of the government. The Third Circuit affirmed as to the Plea Document, vacated with respect to the Reply Brief and Exhibit, and remanded. While a presumptive First Amendment right of access attaches to plea hearings and related documents, the district court properly concluded that the compelling government interests of national security would be substantially impaired by permitting full access to this plea document. The proposed redactions are properly first considered by the district court. View "United States v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to Crunch Fitness on plaintiff's claim that three text messages he received from Crunch violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The panel held, in light of the DC Circuit's recent opinion in ACA International v. Federal Communications Commission, 885 F.3d 687 (D.C. Cir. 2018), and based on the panel's own review of the TCPA, that the statutory definition of automatic text messaging system includes a device that stores telephone numbers (ATDS) to be called, whether or not those numbers have been generated by a random or sequential number generator. Because the district court did not have the benefit of ACA International or the panel's construction of the definition of ATDS, the panel vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Marks v. Crunch San Diego, LLC" on Justia Law