Articles Posted in Communications Law

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Dennis and Wanda Irish appealed a district court order granting a directed verdict in favor of Jeffrey and Dona Hall. The Irishes brought a defamation action against the Halls after the Halls changed their home wireless internet designation to read, “[D]ennis & [W]anda Irish stocking u2.” The complaint requested an injunction, damages, attorney fees and costs. This followed an acrimonious history between the parties stemming from Wanda Irish’s role as the mayor of the city of Harrison. The district court granted the Halls’ motion for a directed verdict, concluding the statement conveyed via the wireless designation was an opinion, and as such was protected under the First Amendment. The Irishes appealed the district court’s order, and the Halls cross-appealed, challenging the district court’s denial of attorney fees. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting the Halls’ motion for a directed verdict, finding the phrase “[D]ennis & [W]anda Irish stocking u2” was not a statement of opinion, political criticism, or hyperbole. The Court vacated the directed verdict, affirmed the denial of attorney fees, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Irish v. Hall" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of statements made to a call-in radio show by Steve Murdock about his neighbor Candace Elliott. The show’s hosts were discussing a Bonneville County case that involved allegations of horse abuse and neglect. Elliott called in to comment. Several callers later, Murdock called in, questioning the veracity of Elliott’s statements, and making various claims about the horse meat market and (referring to Elliott) “Andi’s humane society.” Elliott filed suit, alleging that seven of Murdock’s statements defamed her individually and her foundation, For The Love Of Pets, Inc. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Murdock. Elliott appealed, limiting her appeal to the statement, “Andi’s humane society puts .02% of the money they hit everybody up [sic] back into the care of animals,” which she alleged defames both her and her foundation. The Supreme Court found no reversible error in the trial court's judgment in favor of Murdock, and affirmed in all respects. View "Elliott v. Murdock" on Justia Law

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In 2008, the legislature enacted legislation to establish the Idaho Education Network (IEN), which was to be a high-bandwidth telecommunications distribution system for distance learning in every public school in the state. Syringa Networks, LLC (Syringa), an Idaho telecommunications company, entered into a “teaming agreement” with ENA Services, LLC (ENA). Pursuant to their agreement, ENA submitted a proposal in response to a request-for-proposals (RFP) with the Department of Administration, although the cover letter stated that both ENA and Syringa were responding jointly to the proposal. Qwest Communications Company, LLC, and Verizon Business Network Services, Inc., also submitted responsive proposals. The proposals were then scored based upon specific criteria; the ENA and Qwest proposals received the highest scores. The Department issued a letter of intent to award contracts to Qwest and ENA. One month later, it issued amendments to the two purchase orders to alter the scope of work that each would perform. Qwest became "the general contractor for all IEN technical network services" (providing the “backbone”) and ENA became "the Service Provider." The effect of these amendments was to make Qwest the exclusive provider of the backbone, which was what Syringa intended to provide as a subcontractor of ENA. Syringa filed this lawsuit against the Department, its director, the chief technology officer, ENA and Qwest. The district court ultimately dismissed Syringa’s lawsuit against all of the Defendants on their respective motions for summary judgment. Syringa then appealed the grants of summary judgment, and the State Defendants cross-appealed the refusal to award them attorney fees. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment dismissing all counts of the complaint except count three seeking to set aside the State's contract with Qwest on the ground that it was awarded in violation of the applicable statutes. Furthermore, the Court reversed Qwest’s award of attorney fees against Syringa. We remand to the trial court the determination of whether any of the State Defendants were entitled to an award of attorney fees against Syringa for proceedings in the district court. The Court awarded costs and attorney fees on appeal to ENA. Because the State Defendants and Syringa both prevailed only in part on appeal, the Court did not award them either costs or attorney fees on appeal. View "Syringa Networks v. Idaho Dept of Admin" on Justia Law