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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court and court of appeal rejecting Plaintiffs' facial challenge to the ordinance adopted by the City and County of San Francisco (the City) requiring wireless telephone service companies to obtain permits to install and maintain lines and equipment in public rights-of-way, holding that the lower courts properly found that ordinance was lawful. Specifically, Plaintiffs argued that the ordinance was preempted by Cal. Pub. Util. Code 7901 and that the ordinance violated Cal. Pub. Util. Code 7901.1. The trial court ruled that section 7901 did not preempt the challenged portions of the ordinance and rejected Plaintiffs' claim that it violated section 7901.1. The court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 7901 does not preempt the ordinance based on aesthetic considerations; and (2) the ordinance does not violate section 7901.1 by singling out wireless telephone corporations for regulation. View "T-Mobile West LLC v. City & County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority, on the basis of a rule (Rule) promulgated by Defendant immunizing itself from liability for failures or deficiencies in its supply of water to customers, holding that there was no explicit authorization in the special act creating Defendant that authorized Defendant to promulgate such a rule. Defendant was created in 1967 by a special act of the General Assembly. On the basis of the authority purportedly granted to it by a provision of the special act, Defendant adopted the Rule at issue in this case. Plaintiff later commenced this action seeking damages on the basis of a loss of water service at a hotel operated by Plaintiff. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing (1) the Rule immunized it from liability, and (2) the claim was barred by the common-law economic loss doctrine. The trial court rendered summary judgment for Defendant based on the Rule. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that Defendant lacked authority to promulgate a rule that immunized it from liability for disruptions to water service. View "Raspberry Junction Holding, LLC v. Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority" on Justia Law

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Families filed suit at the Circuit Court seeking, inter alia, a declaratory judgment that they owned lignite under a Mississippi Power Company (“MPC”) plant built on land MPC had purchased, a fact not disputed by any party. One month later, MPC filed suit to confirm and quiet title to its property and further asserted that lignite could only be removed economically by surface mining, a fact not disputed by any party. MPC asked to enjoin all defendants from asserting any right, title, or interest to the lignite. Alternatively, MPC asked for a declaratory judgment that lignite removal would deplete and destroy the surface of its land, rendering it unusable, a fact not disputed by any party. Two orders at issue before the Mississippi Supreme Court were "authored by two learned trial judges—one chancery, one circuit." Although the Supreme Court's review was de novo, the applicable law was neither new nor novel. Because neither trial court failed to follow controlling law, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Barham v. Mississippi Power Company" on Justia Law

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This appeal focused on circumstances in which local water and irrigation districts were entitled to subvention for unfunded state mandates. The Commission on State Mandates (Commission). The Commission denied consolidated test claims for subvention by appellants Paradise Irrigation District (Paradise), South Feather Water & Power Agency (South Feather), Richvale Irrigation District (Richvale), Biggs-West Gridley Water District (Biggs), Oakdale Irrigation District (Oakdale), and Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (Glenn-Colusa). The Commission determined the Water and Irrigation Districts had sufficient legal authority to levy fees to pay for any water service improvements mandated by the Water Conservation Act of 2009. The trial court agreed and denied a petition for writ of mandate brought by the Water and Irrigation Districts. On appeal, the Water and Irrigation Districts presented a question left open by the Court of Appeal’s decision in Connell v. Superior Court, 59 Cal.App.4th 382 (1997). Based on the statutory language, Connell held local water districts were precluded from subvention for state mandates to increase water purity levels insofar as the water districts have legal authority to recover the costs of the state-mandated program. In so holding, Connell rejected an argument by the Santa Margarita Water District and three other water districts that they did not have the “practical ability in light of surrounding economic circumstances.” This appeal considered whether the passage of Proposition 218 changed the authority of water and irrigation districts to recover costs from their ratepayers so that unfunded state mandates for water service had to be reimbursed by the state. The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding the Water and Irrigation Districts possessed statutory authority to collect fees necessary to comply with the Water Conservation Act. Thus, under Government Code section 17556(d), subvention was not available to the Water and Irrigation Districts. The Commission properly denied the reimbursement claims at issue in this case because the Water and Irrigation Districts continued to have legal authority to levy fees even if subject to majority protest of water and irrigation district customers. View "Paradise Irrigation Dist. v. Commission on State Mandates" on Justia Law

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Cobb and Gwinnett Counties, Georgia, sued telephone companies for their failure to collect and remit to the Counties a charge imposed on subscribers to offset the cost of 911 services. The telephone companies raised various defenses to the Counties’ suits, including that the 911 charge was a tax that the Counties were not allowed to collect by a lawsuit like this one. The trial court rejected that argument and allowed the cases to proceed, but the Court of Appeals vacated that aspect of the trial court’s ruling and remanded because further development of the record was needed to determine whether the charge was a tax. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded the charge was indeed a tax regardless of more factual development, and the Counties lacked legal authority to collect that tax in this lawsuit. View "BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC v. Cobb County et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the tax court concluding that the Commissioner of Revenue had overvalued Enbridge Energy, LP’s (EELP) pipeline system for 2013, 2014, and 2015 and issuing a new valuation for all three years, holding that, contrary to the tax court’s conclusion, the tax court is bound by Minnesota Rule 8100, an administrative rule regarding ad valorem taxes for utilities, when valuing a pipeline system and in allocating system unit value. Specifically at issue on appeal was whether the tax court erred in concluding that it is not bound by Rule 8100 when valuing a pipeline system. In reversing, the Supreme Court held that the tax court must follow Rule 8100 on how utilities, including pipelines, should be valued for tax purposes, and the tax court erred by concluding otherwise. View "Commissioner of Revenue v. Enbridge Energy, LP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the report and order of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) denying the Town of Portsmouth’s request for a discounted rate for ferry service from the Town of Bristol to Prudence Island for municipal vehicles and passengers performing essential government services, holding that the PUC did not err in denying the Town’s request for a discounted rate. On appeal, the Town argued that the PUC’s express statutory authority and implied powers grant it the right to order the Town’s requested rates without needing the permission of the entity it regulates, i.e., A&R Marine Corp., d/b/a Prudence & Bay Islands Transport. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) before the PUC would have been legally authorized to act upon a discounted ferry rate for the Town, it would have been necessary, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 39-2-5(2), for A&R Marine to propose such a discounted rate; and (2) because A&R never made such a proposal, the PUC’s report and order is affirmed. View "In re A&R Marine Corp." on Justia Law

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From November 2004 to January 2011, The Door Shop, Inc., utilized $36,081.86 of electricity from Alcorn County Electric Power Association (ACE). But because of a billing error, it was charged only $10,396.28. Upon discovering the error, ACE sought to recover the $25,658.58 difference via supplemental billing. The Door Shop refused to pay, which prompted ACE to file suit. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined that as a matter of law, the Door Shop had to pay, and affirmed the circuit court's order. View "The Door Shop, Inc. v. Alcorn County Electric Power Association" on Justia Law

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Kiki Leslie Tidwell appealed an Idaho Public Utility Commission order denying her request for intervenor funding. The underlying administrative proceeding involved an application by the Idaho Power Company for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to construct a high-voltage electric transmission line in Blaine County. The Commission granted Tidwell’s petition to intervene in December 2016. In September 2017, Tidwell submitted a request for intervenor funding, which the Commission denied as untimely. Tidwell filed a petition for reconsideration, which the Commission also denied. Finding the Commission's denial of Tidwell's petition for reconsideration not "unreasonable, unlawful, erroneous or not in conformity with the law," the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho Power and IPUC v. Tidwell" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, owner of a number of electric generation resources in New England, challenged FERC's adoption of changes to the Transmission, Markets, and Services Tariff proposed by the Independent System Operator for New England (ISO-NE). The DC Circuit held that the parties' dispute may be illusory and thus remanded the record for the agency to sort out what it really means. In this case, at oral argument, counsel for FERC suggested that FERC interpreted the tariff rules in a way that largely squares with Exelon's view of its rights. View "Exelon Corp. v. FERC" on Justia Law