Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Communications Law
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At issue in this appeal was the computation of the broadband credit limits that a taxpayer may use against its franchise-tax and income-tax liabilities. During the tax periods at issue, AT&T Mobility II, LLC, and BellSouth Telecommunications operated telecommunications enterprises and made significant investments in broadband technology developments throughout Mississippi, generating Broadband Investment Credits (Broadband Credits) under Mississippi Code Section 57-87-5. BellSouth Mobile Data, SBC Alloy Holdings, New BellSouth Cannular Holdings, New Cingular Wireless Services, SBC Telecom, and Centennial were all direct or indirect corporate owners of AT&T Mobility II. The taxpayers here each filed a separate franchise-tax return and were included as affiliated group members in the combined corporate income-tax return filed on behalf of the affiliated group. The Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) determined that the broadband credits the taxpayers had claimed had been improperly applied to an amount greater than the credit cap of 50 percent of the taxpayers’ tax liabilities according to Mississippi Code Section 57-87- 5(3) (Rev. 2014). The MDR disallowed portions of the broadband credits claimed by the taxpayers and assessed additional franchise taxes, interest and penalties to the taxpayers separately on several dates between December 22, 2014, and May 20, 2015. The taxpayers argue that each taxpayer is jointly and severally liable for the total combined income-tax liability of the affiliated group, therefore making the income-tax liability of each taxpayer the same as the total combined income-tax liability of the affiliated group. The chancellor granted summary judgment in favor of the taxpayers and ruled that the taxpayer’s tax liabilities under Chapters 7 and 13 of Title 271 of the Mississippi Code was the aggregate of the taxpayer’s separate franchise-tax liability and the total combined income-tax liability of the affiliated group. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor's ruling on the credit-computation issue. "The plain and unambiguous language of Section 57-87-5 clearly limits broadband credits that a taxpayer may take in any given year to 50 percent of the aggregate of the taxpayers’ franchise-tax liability and the total combined income-tax liability of the affiliated group." View "Mississippi Dept. of Revenue v. SBC Telecom, Inc. et al." on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services (ITS) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for telecommunications services. After vendors responded, ITS selected the proposal submitted by Telepak Networks, Inc., d/b/a C Spire (C Spire) for a statewide voice and data network. AT&T Corp. (AT&T) protested the award, arguing that ITS’s award of the contract to C Spire was erroneous because C Spire’s proposal did not match the specifications set forth in the RFP. ITS denied AT&T’s challenge, and it appealed. The Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County affirmed, finding that ITS’s award of the contract to C Spire was not arbitrary and capricious or unsupported by substantial evidence. AT&T appealed. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court held that the ITS decision that C Spire’s proposal matched the RFP’s specifications was supported by substantial evidence and was not arbitrary and capricious. Therefore, we affirm. View "AT&T Corp. v. Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services" on Justia Law

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In February 2006, BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., and BellSouth MNS, Inc., filed an ex parte motion for a protective order in the Chancery Court, seeking to protect certain documents. The documents fell into the following four categories: (1) an August 2005 proposal submitted by BellSouth to the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services in response to the Department’s request for telecommunications products and services; (2) the Telecommunications Products and Service Agreement between BellSouth and the Department dated November 2005; (3) correspondence between BellSouth and the Department related to the first two documents; and (4) related BellSouth marketing materials. Following legislative amendments in 2015 to the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983 and to Mississippi Code Section 25-1-100, CellularSouth sought production of the proposal and the contract between the Department and BellSouth. After review, the Supreme Court found the chancery court erred in its interpretation of the amended Mississippi Code Section 25-61-11 when it entered an order continuing to protect the contract from production. Furthermore, the Court held that, because the rights in question in the case sub judice were created by statute, the Public Records Act, as amended, governed this dispute. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cellular South, Inc. v. BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC" on Justia Law

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Two appeals are were consolidated from chancery-court cases. In the first case, Diamondhead Country Club and Property Owners Association, Inc. sued Thomas R. Alfonso, III, and Anne Scafidi Cordova,1 d/b/a Bay Jourdan Publishing Co. (BJP) for breach of a contract to publish "The Diamondhead News." In 1997, the chancery court entered a preliminary injunction order preventing BJP from publishing "The Diamondhead News," selling advertising, collecting or disposing of advertising revenues derived from the publication the paper, and interfering with the printing, publication, or distribution of "The Diamondhead News." The chancery court also found that an arbitration clause in the publishing contract was inapplicable to the lawsuit. The chancery court denied BJP’s two subsequent motions to compel arbitration of the breach-of-contract dispute. BJP appealed the chancery court’s latest denial of arbitration. In the second case, BJP sued Diamondhead and Gulf Publishing Co., Inc., d/b/a "The Sun Herald" (“Gulf Publishing”), for intentional interference with the publishing contract. Gulf Publishing filed a motion for summary judgment. The court granted summary judgment to Gulf Publishing and directed the entry of a final judgment as to Gulf Publishing pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). BJP appealed the grant of summary judgment. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancery court’s order denying BJP’s third motion to compel arbitration because the issue was ruled upon previously, and no appeal was taken. Finding genuine issues of material fact for trial, the Court reversed the chancery court’s order granting summary judgment to Diamondhead and Gulf Publishing, and remanded the second case for further proceedings. View "Alfonso v. Gulf Publishing Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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Two appeals were consolidated from chancery-court cases. In the first case, Diamondhead Country Club and Property Owners Association, Inc. sued Thomas Alfonso, III, and Anne Scafidi Cordova (d/b/a Bay Jourdan Publishing Co., "BJP") for breach of a contract to publish "The Diamondhead News." In 1997, the chancery court entered a preliminary injunction order preventing BJP from publishing "The Diamondhead News," selling advertising for the paper, collecting or disposing of advertising revenues derived from the publication of the paper, and interfering with the printing, publication, or distribution of "The Diamondhead News." The chancery court also found that an arbitration clause in the publishing contract was inapplicable to the lawsuit. The chancery court denied BJP's two subsequent motions to compel arbitration of the breach-of-contract dispute. BJP appealed the chancery court's denial of arbitration. In the second case, BJP sued Diamondhead and Gulf Publishing Co., Inc. (d/b/a The Sun Herald) for intentional interference with the publishing contract. Gulf Publishing filed a motion for summary judgment. The court granted summary judgment to Gulf Publishing and directed the entry of a final judgment as to Gulf Publishing pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). BJP appealed that grant of summary judgment. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancery court's order denying BJP’s second motion to compel arbitration because the issue was ruled upon previously, and no appeal was taken. Finding genuine issues of material fact for trial, the Court reversed the chancery court's order granting summary judgment to Diamondhead and Gulf Publishing, and remanded that case for further proceedings. View "Alfonso v. Gulf Publishing Co., Inc." on Justia Law