Articles Posted in Communications Law

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Defendant Bryan Jones secretly recorded Brenda Papillon’s conversations with other people outside his presence. Papillon sued Jones under the Interception of Communications Act, Iowa Code chapter 808B, which prohibits “willfully intercept[ing]…a[n] oral communication” without permission of one of the parties. At a bench trial, Papillon offered the recordings and transcripts into evidence. Jones objected based on section 808B.7, but the district court allowed Papillon to use the recordings. The court subsequently found Jones liable under the Act and awarded actual damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees. The court of appeals reversed the award of punitive damages because the district court did not find Defendant was aware of the requirements of chapter 808B, and otherwise affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) to recover punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove the defendant knew he was violating chapter 808B; but (2) the evidence in this case supported a finding that Defendant knew he was violating the statute. Remanded. View "Papillon v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law

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In 2006, Cable One, Inc., which offers cable television and internet access, began offering Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service to its residential customers in Sioux City. In 2008 and 2009, the Iowa Department of Revenue determined that Cable One should be assessed based on the value of its telephone operating property in the state. Cable One appealed, arguing that it was not a telephone company subject to taxation under Iowa Code chapter 433 because VoIP is not the equivalent of telephone service. An administrative law judge (ALJ) in the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals entered summary judgment in favor of Cable One, concluding that the company did not fit the “historical context of a ‘telephone company.’” The Iowa State Board of Tax Review agreed with the ALJ that Cable One was not subject to assessment under chapter 433. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) wiring that was originally installed for cable television purposes but is now also used to provide VoIP service is a “telephone line”; and (2) therefore, Cable One, which operates these lines, is subject to central assessment for property tax purposes as a telephone company. View "Kay-Decker v. Iowa State Bd. of Tax Review" on Justia Law