Case: State of Oklahoma v. FCC

16-01057 | No Court

Filed Date: Feb. 12, 2016

Closed Date: 2017

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Case Summary

This suit, brought by the State of Oklahoma on Feb. 12, 2016, challenges a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order that set new rate caps for local (intrastate) and long-distance (interstate) inmate calling. More information on the prior administrative proceedings can be found here. The State brought this suit pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), alleging the FCC violated the APA's prohibition of arbitrary and capricious regulations and regulations that exceed statutory aut…

This suit, brought by the State of Oklahoma on Feb. 12, 2016, challenges a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order that set new rate caps for local (intrastate) and long-distance (interstate) inmate calling. More information on the prior administrative proceedings can be found here. The State brought this suit pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), alleging the FCC violated the APA's prohibition of arbitrary and capricious regulations and regulations that exceed statutory authority. The State sought to enjoin the FCC's Second Order issued in Oct. 2015.

The State argued that the order exceeded the FCC's authority by doing more than just "level[ing] the playing field between payphone providers." The state contended that the Federal Communications Act ("the Act") granted the FCC authority to create "regulations that protect payphone service providers from state or local laws and unfair practices by infrastructure providers that render payphones not financially viable." The Act, however, did not authorize the FCC to promulgate regulations that "benefit prison inmates at the expense of taxpayers and phone service providers." Moreover, the State argued that in most circumstances the FCC was precluded from preempting state policy, and so it generally did not have authority over intrastate communications unless expressly provided in the Act. The state further argued that in so doing, the FCC ignored recorded evidence of the cost of providing inmate calling services.

This case was consolidated with the following cases also pending in the Circuit Court: 15-1461, 15-1498, 16-1012, 16-1029, 16-1038, and 16-1046 between Jan. and Feb. 2016. Network Communications International Corp. intervened in the case on behalf of the FCC (date unknown based on docket).

On March 23, 2016, the court stayed the FCC's order with respect to its imposition of interim calling rate caps to intrastate calling services, but not interstate calling services. The parties then proceeded to brief the issues, and oral arguments were held on Feb. 6, 2017.

On June 13, the court ruled in favor the State, invalidating the FCC order's proposed caps on intrastate rates on the basis that that provision exceeded the agency's statutory authority under the Act. The court further concluded that the FCC's cost calculations did not reflect reasoned decision-making, and so violated the APA's provision against arbitrary and capricious regulations. Finally, the court remanded to the FCC consideration of if it can separate out permissible interstate call caps from the now-impermissible intrastate call caps. 866 F.3d 397.

Specifically, the FCC asserted that it issued intrastate caps under the authority of an Act provision requiring the FCC to create a "per call compensation plan to ensure that all payphone service providers are fairly compensated for each and every completed intrastate and interstate call using their payphone." The State argued that that provision does not preclude another Act provision prohibiting the FCC from exercising jurisdiction over "charges, classifications, practices, services, facilities, or regulations for or in connection with intrastate communication service." The court agreed with the State, finding there is a presumption against the FCC's authority over specifically intrastate rates. The court drew a distinction in what the Act allowed the FCC to do: it was expressly permitted to exercise its authority to ensure interstate rates were just and reasonable, and it was to separately ensure that phone service providers were fairly compensated. But, the court argued, the latter provision did not mandate that the FCC had authority to ensure intrastate rates were just and reasonable too. The court further found that in ensuring providers were fairly compensated, the FCC was not required to consider consumers (i.e. inmates) in its fairness assessment. 866 F.3d 397.

The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Virginia Weeks (12/3/2017)

Related Cases

Wright v. Corrections Corporation of America, District of Columbia (2000)

Judd v. AT&T, Washington state trial court (2000)

In re Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services / Wright Petition II, No Court (2012)

In the Matter of Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services / Wright Petition I, No Court (2003)

Securus Technologies v. FCC, U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2016)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Collins, Christopher  James (Oklahoma)

Haines, Jared (Oklahoma)

Honycutt, Danny (Oklahoma)

Mansinghani, Mithun (Oklahoma)

Pruitt, E. Scott (Oklahoma)

Wyrick, Patrick Robert (Oklahoma)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Gossett, David Morris (District of Columbia)

Haar, Daniel Edward (District of Columbia)

Lewis, Jacob M. (District of Columbia)

Nicholson, Robert B. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Collins, Christopher  James (Oklahoma)

Haines, Jared (Oklahoma)

Honycutt, Danny (Oklahoma)

Mansinghani, Mithun (Oklahoma)

Pruitt, E. Scott (Oklahoma)

Wyrick, Patrick Robert (Oklahoma)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Gossett, David Morris (District of Columbia)

Haar, Daniel Edward (District of Columbia)

Lewis, Jacob M. (District of Columbia)

Nicholson, Robert B. (District of Columbia)

Welch, Richard Kiser (District of Columbia)

Wimberly, Mary Helen (District of Columbia)

Other Attorney(s)

Bond, Tonya J. (Indiana)

Chanay, Jeffrey Allyn (Kansas)

Draye, Dominic Emil (Arizona)

Fisher, Thomas M. (Indiana)

Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia)

Hirth, John Andrew (Missouri)

Lennington, Daniel P (Wisconsin)

Palmer, Karla L. (District of Columbia)

Racine, Karl A. (Maryland)

Rouse, Joanne Therese (Indiana)

Rudofsky, Lee Philip (Arkansas)

Sanders, David Glen (Louisiana)

Sauer, Dean John (Missouri)

Sellers, Joseph Marc (District of Columbia)

Tseytlin, Misha (Wisconsin)

Tweeten, Andrew Henry (Minnesota)

VanDyke, Lawrence James Christopher (Nevada)

Wilton, Patricia Hill (Louisiana)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

16-01057

Docket [PACER]

State of Oklahoma v. FCC

U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Dec. 21, 2017

Dec. 21, 2017

Docket
1598874

16-01057

Petition for Review

State of Oklahoma v. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Feb. 12, 2016

Feb. 12, 2016

Pleading / Motion / Brief
1687467

16-01057

On Petitions for Review of an Order of the Federal Communications Commission

Global Tel Link v. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Aug. 4, 2017

Aug. 4, 2017

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 12, 2016

Closing Date: 2017

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

State of Oklahoma (petitioner)

Plaintiff Type(s):

State Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Federal Communications Commission, Federal

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

Special Case Type(s):

Appellate Court is initial court

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Phone

Affected Gender:

Female

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run