Justia Communications Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Crown Castle NG East LLC, et al v. Pennsylvania Utilities Commission
In an appeal by allowance, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered the level of deference courts had to afford an administrative agency’s interpretation of its enabling statute. Additionally, the Court considered whether the Commonwealth Court erred in concluding that Distributed Antenna System (DAS) networks were public utilities under the Pennsylvania Public Utility Code (Code), thereby reversing the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) interpretation of the definition of “public utility." This case involved the status of DAS networks as public utilities in Pennsylvania. Appellees, Crown Castle NG East LLC (Crown Castle NG) and Pennsylvania-CLEC LLC (Pennsylvania-CLEC) (collectively Crown Castle), operated DAS networks. Crown Castle’s DAS networks provided telecommunications transport services to Wireless Service Providers (WSP), such as AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and others. The WSPs offered "commercial mobile radio service" (CMRS) to retail end-users. The Supreme Court agreed with the Commonwealth Court that DAS network operators did not provide CMRS because DAS network operators “own no spectrum, need no phone numbers, and their contractual relationship is solely with the WSPs, not with the retail cell phone user. . . . [T]he DAS network operator has no control over the generation of that signal [that it transports for the WSPs].” Accordingly, the Court concluded that DAS network operators did not furnish CMRS and were not excluded from the definition of public utility by Section 102(2)(iv). Further, the Court concluded the Commonwealth Court did not err in holding that the PUC’s interpretation of a clear and unambiguous statutory provision was not entitled to deference. Further, the Commonwealth Court properly concluded that DAS network service met the definition of “public utility” and is not excluded from that definition as it did not furnish CMRS service. View "Crown Castle NG East LLC, et al v. Pennsylvania Utilities Commission" on Justia Law
Co. of Butler v. Centurylink, et al..
The issue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in this case concerned whether counties could advance common law claims seeking legal redress against telecommunications companies for alleged deficiencies in their administration of fees associated with 911 emergency communication services. The Supreme Court concluded the Legislature balanced counties’ interests against those of other co-participants enlisted under the 911 Act and provided sufficient indicia evincing its intention to centralize enforcement authority in the relevant state agency. "Although we realize that the County may have been disadvantaged by PEMA’s apparent failure to act, this unfortunate circumstance does not control the judicial construction of a legislative enactment." Thus, the Court reversed the Commonwealth Court, and reinstated the order of the court of common pleas. View "Co. of Butler v. Centurylink, et al.." on Justia Law
Joseph v. Scranton Times
This matter arose from a series of articles written by James Conmy and Edward Lewis which appeared from June 1 to October 10, 2001, in the Citizens’ Voice, a newspaper in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area owned by The Scranton Times L.P. The articles reported about the existence of a federal criminal investigation into the alleged ties of William D’Elia, the reputed head of the Bufalino crime family of northeastern Pennsylvania, and Thomas A. Joseph, Sr. to organized crime activities. The articles included information related to, inter alia, the May 31, 2001, execution of search warrants by a large contingent of federal agents and state troopers at the residence of Joseph, Sr., the office of Joseph, Sr.’s business, Acumark, Inc., the residence of Samuel Marranca, the residence of Jeanne Stanton, and the residence of D’Elia. Defendants The Scranton Times L.P., The Times Partner, Conmy, and Lewis appealed a superior court order which affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County and granted appellees Thomas A. Joseph, Thomas J. Joseph, Acumark, Inc., and Airport Limousine and Taxi Service, Inc. a new trial. After careful consideration of the parties' arguments on appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that the superior court erred in granting Appellees a new trial, and therefore, reversed. View "Joseph v. Scranton Times" on Justia Law