Justia Communications Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in California Court of Appeal
New Cingular Wireless PCS v. Pub. Utils. Comm’n of Cal.
AT&T sought to acquire T-Mobil, then a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, and merge its operations and infrastructure into itself. For months after the proposal was announced, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the U.S. Department of Justice, and state regulatory agencies, investigated to determine whether the merger would have adverse effects on competition and customer service, and if so, whether mitigation measures were warranted as a condition of approval. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) sought to complete the investigation of a complex transaction having national scope within a few months because FCC proceedings were unfolding on an expedited schedule. CPUC invited participation from intervenors, including TURN and CforAT. TURN apparently took a leading role and won several procedural victories. Before CPUC completed comments for submission to the FCC, AT&T and Telekom unexpectedly announced the withdrawal of their proposed merger. CPUC dismissed the proceeding as moot, but decided several collateral matters, and stated that requests for intervenor compensation “are appropriate.” TURN and CforAT sought intervenor compensation. Based on detailed findings explaining their “substantial contributions,” CPUC issued awards over opposition by proponents of the merger. The court of appeal vacated the awards without prejudice to renewal and redetermination of the requests. The awards were consistent with CPUC’s long-standing position and with the statutory scheme. The court rejected the “broad” rationale relied upon by CPUC in the orders. View "New Cingular Wireless PCS v. Pub. Utils. Comm'n of Cal." on Justia Law
Lanz v. Goldstone
Goldstone and Lanz are Santa Rosa attorneys. Lanz represented Garcia-Bolio in a “Marvin” action and had a contingency fee agreement. The suit settled on the third day of trial. There was a dispute as to the value of the settlement and Lanz’s fee. Lanz sued Bolio, who failed to respond, and her default was taken. Goldstone became Bolio’s lawyer and, following relief from default, filed an answer and a cross-complaint, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, professional negligence, and several ethical violations by Lanz, including that he acted with “moral turpitude.” Lanz defeated Bolio’s cross-claims, leaving only Lanz’s claim against Bolio. Lanz obtained a complete victory at trial, in a decision highly critical of Bolio’s conduct. Lanz then sued Goldstone for malicious prosecution. Goldstone filed an anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motion to dismiss. The court of appeal affirmed denial, concluding that Lanz met his burden under prong two of the anti-SLAPP analysis, demonstrating a probability of success on all three elements of malicious prosecution. View "Lanz v. Goldstone" on Justia Law
Bikkina v. Mahadevan
While Bikkina was in a Ph.D. program at the University of Tulsa, Mahadevan, Bikkina’s first dissertation advisor and supervisor, repeatedly charged that Bikkina falsified data in published papers and plagiarized Mahadevan’s work. In each case, the University found no wrong doing by Bikkina, but that Mahadevan had violated the University‘s harassment policies. Bikkina completed his Ph.D. and began working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Mahadevan contacted Bikkina‘s superiors to state that Bikkina had falsified data, then made a presentation at LBNL and told Bikkina‘s colleagues that Bikkina had published a paper using false data., Bikkina filed a complaint for damages against Mahadevan, who filed an anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motion to strike under Code of Civil Procedure 425.16. Mahadevan argued that Bikkina improperly sought to chill public discourse on carbon sequestration and its impacts on global warming. Mahadevan asserted that his statements concerned important public issues and constituted protected speech. The court of appeal affirmed denial of the motion, finding that Mahadevan had not engated in protected conduct, even if the conduct arose from protected activity, Bikkina’s claims have sufficient merit to survive a motion to strike. View "Bikkina v. Mahadevan" on Justia Law