American Telephone & Telegraph Company v. Central Office Telephone, Inc. Page 20

American Telephone & Telegraph Company v. Central Office Telephone, Inc. general information

Media for American Telephone & Telegraph Company v. Central Office Telephone, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 23, 1998 in American Telephone & Telegraph Company v. Central Office Telephone, Inc.

Stephen G. Breyer:

Is that the point?

Bruce M. Hall:

At the trial, Your Honor... I'm merely pointing out that intentional interference--

John Paul Stevens:

Mr. Hall, at page 51 of the Joint Appendix, the pretrial order, (g), first affirmative defense, filed tariff doctrine.

Bruce M. Hall:

--Is that under intentional interference, Your Honor?

John Paul Stevens:

Well, it's their first affirmative defense.

I don't know if... so they at least have talked about--

--All right, so--

Bruce M. Hall:

I may have misspoken myself, but I'm awfully certain that under the intentional interference claim they did not raise the filed rate doctrine.

Stephen G. Breyer:

--If we're speaking practically, is there anything impractical about the following: you file your complaint in court to protect against the statute of limitations.

You then go to the commission and raise all your claims having to do with the tariff.

You might win.

If you lose, at least there's a good chance there'll be something that comes out of the commission that clarifies the remaining question, namely the question of whether, if you lose everything within the tariffs, nonetheless, nothing preempts the operation of State law in this area.

Now, as a practical matter, is there anything wrong with that, which is what I thought that... you know, there are quite a few cases that suggest that's the right route.

Bruce M. Hall:

Well, reserving that, we thoroughly believe we have the right to file an intentional interference claim and if it weren't linked to this other one we wouldn't even be here today, in our opinion.

But secondly, Your Honor, as a practical matter, going to the... taking the referral and coming to Washington, D.C. from Portland, Oregon is a big financial matter.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

I take it the argument of AT&T is that if you had been simply a competitor and not a customer, there might have been a cause of action here, but the customer relation trumps your standing as a competitor.

Is that their argument?

Bruce M. Hall:

That seems to be their argument.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Do you have some cases that refute that?

Bruce M. Hall:

Well, I would simply say, Your Honor, that the ones that we cite at the very beginning of our case, of our answering brief, responding brief, suggest that a number of these have gone forward despite the Communications Act and filed rate doctrine.

William H. Rehnquist:

Thank you, Mr. Hall.

The case is submitted.