Justia Communications Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Bankruptcy
Medley v. Dish Network, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that DISH violated the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) in its attempts to collect debt it knew had been discharged in bankruptcy and in its direct contacts with plaintiff knowing she was represented by counsel. Plaintiff also alleged that DISH violated the Telephone Consumer Practices Act (TCPA) by contacting plaintiff about the debt with an automated dialing system after she revoked her consent to receive such calls.The Eleventh Circuit first determined that DISH's claim for the Pause debt was discharged. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the FCCPA claims. In this case, DISH attempted to collect debt it had no legal right to collect because the debt had been discharged in bankruptcy, and DISH directly contacted plaintiff after having received notice that she was represented by counsel. Accordingly, the court remanded on the FCCPA claims for the district court to consider whether DISH actually knew that the Pause charges were invalid and that plaintiff was represented by counsel with regard to the debt it was attempting to collect, and if so, whether such errors were unintentional and the result of bona fide error.The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the TCPA claim, holding that the TCPA does not allow unilateral revocation of consent given in a bargained-for contract. The court reasoned that, by permitting plaintiff to unilaterally revoke a mutually-agreed-upon term in a contract would run counter to black-letter contract law in effect at the time Congress enacted the TCPA. View "Medley v. Dish Network, LLC" on Justia Law
In Re: WorldCom, Inc.
The IRS challenged the district court's judgment upholding the bankruptcy court's decision to grant the objection of the reorganized Worldcom debtors to the IRS's proof of claim for taxes owed and the debtors' refund motion for the taxes WorldCom had already paid. At issue was whether WorldCom must pay federal excise taxes on the purchase of a telecommunications service that connected people using dial-up modems to the Internet. The court held that WorldCom purchased a "local telephone service" when it paid for the telecommunications service and that WorldCom must therefore pay federal communication excise taxes on those transactions. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "In Re: WorldCom, Inc." on Justia Law
In re: WorldCom, Inc. v. MCI Worldcom Communications
This case stemmed from bankruptcy court proceedings between MCI and CNI where MCI sought to recover from CNI allegedly unpaid telecommunications services. CNI counterclaimed. At issue on appeal was whether the district court properly granted relief under Rule 4(a)(6) to CNI when it claimed that it never received the Civil Rule 77(d) notice and therefore failed to file a timely notice of appeal. The court agreed with the district court that CNI met the express preconditions of Rule 4(a)(6). The court held that relief under the rule was discretionary and its grant in this case was inappropriate. The failure to receive Civil Rule 77(d) notice was entirely and indefensibly the fault of CNI's counsel. Granting such relief in these circumstances was at odds with the purposes and structure of the procedural scheme. Accordingly, the court reversed the order granting the motion to reopen and dismissed CNI's appeal as untimely. View "In re: WorldCom, Inc. v. MCI Worldcom Communications" on Justia Law
In Re: Philadelphia Newspapers
Philadelphia Inquirer (debtors) published print and online articles discussing the CSMI‘s contract management of the Chester Community Charter School. After CSMI filed a defamation action, the Inquirer filed for relief under Chapter 11, 11 U.S.C. 101. CSMI alleged that post-petition, debtors published an article that links to and endorses earlier articles and filed the administrative expense requests: $1,800,000 for alleged post-petition defamation and $147,140 in alleged damages for post-petition conduct and prosecution of claims against CSMI. The Bankruptcy Court denied the requests. Debtors conducted an auction of substantially all assets, and the sale was consummated under a plan that provided that the purchaser would assume certain administrative expense claims, not including claims arising from the CSMI’s administrative expense requests. The district court held that an appeal was equitably moot: the plan had been substantially consummated and no stay was sought. The court also stated that merely posting a link to the charter school webpage that contained the original articles was not distinct tortious conduct upon which a defamation claim can be grounded. The Third Circuit affirmed. While the appeal was not equitably moot, CSMI cannot advance a sustainable cause of action to support the requests. View "In Re: Philadelphia Newspapers" on Justia Law
Halo Wireless, Inc. v. Alenco Communications, Inc., et al.
Local telephone companies initiated twenty separate suits against Halo before ten state public utility commissions (PUCs) and Halo filed for bankruptcy as a result of this collective action. The telephone companies requested that the bankruptcy court determine that the various PUC actions were not subject to the automatic stay provided by the Bankruptcy Code at 11 U.S.C. 362(a), because they were excepted under section 362(b)(4), or that the bankruptcy court modify the automatic stay for cause, pursuant to section 362(d)(1). The court agreed with the bankruptcy court's holding that the exception to the automatic stay in section 362(b)(4) applied to the state commission proceedings, allowing the telephone companies to proceed with their litigation in the PUCs, but holding that the state adjudicative bodies could not issue any ruling or order to liquidate the amount of any claim against Halo, and that the bodies could not take any action that affected the debtor-creditor relationship between Halo and any creditor or potential creditor. View "Halo Wireless, Inc. v. Alenco Communications, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
In re: Fort Wayne Telsat, Inc.
Indiana University had an Instructional Television Fixed Service license, issued by the FCC, that authorized broadcast on specified frequencies. A not-for-profit ITFS licensee can lease unused frequencies to a for-profit entity. The university was contemplating assigning frequencies to PBS, but before it did, PBS quitclaimed its rights to the debtor. Thinking that the transfer was final, debtor modified equipment at a cost of $350,000. The bankruptcy trustee filed a claim against the university, contending that it had promised PBS the license, that debtor had reasonably relied on the promise, and that the doctrine of promissory estoppel entitled debtor to damages of $116,000. The claim settled for $100,000. Because the settlement left the estate with insufficient assets to pay unsecured creditors, a creditor challenged it. The bankruptcy court, district court, and Seventh Circuit affirmed. The trustee decided that pursuing a claim for the license was hopeless and made a reasonable decision. View "In re: Fort Wayne Telsat, Inc." on Justia Law