Justia Communications Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Qwest v. Free Conferencing Corp.
The district court found third-party plaintiff Qwest failed to prove its claims for intentional interference with a business relationship, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment against third-party defendant FC. The court agreed with the district court that FC did not act with an improper purpose when it contracted with Sancom, a local exchange carrier (LEC), because FC was simply attempting to take advantage of the uncertain regulatory scheme at the time; FC had a legitimate argument that it could be considered an “end user,” and thus Sancom could bill Qwest under its tariff for calls delivered to FC’s call bridges; and thus the district court did not err in finding for FC on Qwest's claim for intentional interference with a business relationship. The court predicted that the South Dakota Supreme Court would not recognize a tort of unfair competition under these circumstances, and found that the district court properly rejected this new tort. The court concluded, however, that the district court incorrectly found FC’s conduct was “neither illegal nor inequitable” because it was simply taking advantage of a loophole until the loophole closed, and the district court improperly considered Sancom’s settlement payments to Qwest when it found FC was not unjustly enriched. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for reconsideration of whether FC was unjustly enriched. View "Qwest v. Free Conferencing Corp." on Justia Law
Braitberg v. Charter Communications
Plaintiff filed suit against Charter, alleging that Charter retained his personally identifiable information in violation of a section of the Cable Communications Policy Act, 47 U.S.C. 551(e). The district court granted Charter's motion to dismiss. The court concluded that plaintiff's notice of appeal was timely where plaintiff filed his notice of appeal thirty-seven days after the district court’s judgment dismissing the case was entered in the docket, well before the district court’s judgment was deemed “entered” and the time for filing a notice of appeal began to run. With the benefit of Spokeo v. Robin's guidance, the court concluded that plaintiff has not alleged an injury in fact as required by Article III. In Spokeo, the Supreme Court explained that Article III standing requires a concrete injury even in the context of a statutory violation. In this case, plaintiff failed to allege a concrete harm and failed to allege an economic injury. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Braitberg v. Charter Communications" on Justia Law
Digital Recognition Network, Inc. v. Hutchinson
Plaintiffs sell technology that permits computers to identify license-plate numbers in digital photographs taken by cameras mounted on vehicles. The cameras automatically photograph everything the vehicles encounter, with GPS coordinates; software provides notice if a photographed vehicle is subject to repossession. The information is sold to clients, including automobile finance and insurance companies and law enforcement. Arkansas’s Automatic License Plate Reader System Act prohibits use of automatic license plate reader systems and permits any person claiming harm from a violation to seek damages from the violator. Vigilant and its affiliates sued, arguing that “use of [automatic license plate reader] systems to collect and create information” and dissemination of the information constitutes speech and that the Act impermissibly restricts this speech based on content—license-plate data—and on the identity of the speaker, because it exempts some entities, such as law enforcement agencies. The district court dismissed, ruling that state officials were immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed on the ground that the plaintiffs lack standing, so there is no Article III case or controversy. State officials do not have authority to enforce the Act, so they do not cause injury; the Act provides for enforcement only through private actions for damages. View "Digital Recognition Network, Inc. v. Hutchinson" on Justia Law