High Court Says States Can Be Sued In Federal Court

High Court Says States Can Be Sued In Federal Court

Post by Marcus Didius Falc » Wed, 22 May 2002 04:06:14

The Supreme Court giveth and the Supreme Court taketh away. This is
exactly the strategy that the ILECs have been saying they would follow
in the wake of the decision last week upholding FCC rules on
UNEs. Deep pockets litigation dragged out forever. Indeed, it was
specifically Verizon that had said last week that it would be drawing
out the litigation state by state.

Note that this decision hasn't gotten NEARLY the publicity of the
earlier one.

Published by Congressional Quarterly and the CQ Daily Monitor

Monday, May 20, 2002 - 1:55 p.m.


     The Supreme Court ruled 8-0 today that states can be sued in
federal court for their activities implementing the 1996
Telecommunications Act (PL 104-104), the Associated Press
reported. Justices refused requests by Maryland's regulators to shield
states from lawsuits by telephone companies. The ruling is the court's
second in a week stemming from the 1996 law, which sought to spur
competition in local phone service. Last week, justices upheld a
federal plan for making the transition. Today's ruling means states
must deal with potentially lengthy federal court litigation from
companies angry over how state utility boards or other regulators are
following the law. Maryland attorneys had argued that companies
dissatisfied with state decisions should be restricted to challenges
in state courts. The court also held that state commissioners could be
sued individually. The ruling came in the case of Verizon Maryland
v. Public Service Commission of Maryland.

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1. Court Says CLEC Customers Can Sue Baby Bells

The following article appeared in the June 25, 2002, issue of the email
newsletter from Info World:

Posted June 21, 2002 01:44 Pacific Time

WASHINGTON - A recent ruling by a U.S. Court of Appeals in New York
has opened the door for residential and business customers frustrated
by poor service from startup local phone companies to potentially seek
revenge from Baby Bells.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Thursday vacated a
lower court's decision to throw out a case brought by the customer of
a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) against incumbent phone
company Bell Atlantic, now called Verizon Communications. The case has
been remanded to the lower court, although Verizon is contemplating
taking it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For the full story:

This describes a US Court of Appeals ruling regarding a class action
law suit by customers of a CLEC (AT&T) who sued the ILEC (Verizon)
whose territory the CLEC was attempting to gain a foothold. The suit
claimed that the ILEC interfered with a customer's (plaintiff) ability
to get service from the CLEC. Seems to be interesting litigation where
the end user is trying to sue their supplier's competitor and "owner
of the plant to be used/leased by the CLEC", to force the ILEC to let
the CLEC offer services.

The plaintiff (customer of the CLEC) claimed that the ILEC violated
anti-trust laws by restraining the CLEC in that they interfered with
the plaintiff's ability to get dependable service from the CLEC.
Verizon claimed that the plaintiff (customer) was only "indirectly"
harmed by their actions and therefore had no standing against the
antitrust laws. The Appeals Court disagreed, asserted that the
plaintiff (customer) had a right to sue and sent the case back to the
lower court to be heard.

If this ruling holds up to any additional court action, it might be a
real door-opener to get potential customer's of the CLEC's to be
involved legally against the ILEC in whose territory the CLEC is
attempting to offer services. This could have more positive influence
on the Telecommunications Act of 1966 than any FCC action..

Very interesting development. This will have to be monitored closely.

John Stahl
Aljon Enterprises
Telecommunications and Data Consultant
URL: http://home.att.net/~aljon

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