Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corporation

PETITIONER: Loretto
RESPONDENT: Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corporation
LOCATION: Minnesota State Capitol Building

DOCKET NO.: 81-244
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: New York Court of Appeals

CITATION: 458 US 419 (1982)
ARGUED: Mar 30, 1982
DECIDED: Jun 30, 1982

ADVOCATES:
Erwin N. Griswold - on behalf of Appellee
Michael S. Gruen - on behalf of Appellant

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 30, 1982 in Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corporation

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Loretto against Teleprompter Manhattan.

Mr. Gruen, I think you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Michael S. Gruen:

Thank you very much.

Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Court:

I'm here to argue for the preservation of one of our subordinate constitutional rights, namely the preservation of property.

That constitutional right existed in its full sanctity--

Are you conceding that?

Michael S. Gruen:

--Excuse me, sir?

In that statement are you conceding it's a subordinate right?

[Laughter]

It's not so subordinate that you can't prevail, is that it?

Michael S. Gruen:

I'm sorry?

Not so subordinate that you can't prevail.

Michael S. Gruen:

I hope not, sir.

Argument by irony.

Michael S. Gruen:

This constitutional right existed in its full sanctity in New York prior to 1973.

At that time Teleprompter and other cable television companies made a practice of seeking owner consent before installing cable television lines and the necessary accompanying equipment.

It was their practice, dictated by management, to solicit consent using a printed form which you'll find in the joint appendix at pages 32 to 33, which provided specifically for compensation at the rate of five percent of gross revenues derived from the building on which the installation was made.

Effective as of January 1, 1973, Executive Law Section 828 was adopted and made effective in New York, prohibiting landlord interference with installations and prohibiting any payments to landlords from cable television companies or from tenants with respect to such installations, with the exception of purely discretionary compensation which could be made by the cable television commission with respect to installations servicing the tenants on the property on which the installation was made, and then only if application was made for it within a very short period after the installation had been made, some, I believe, 180 days if I remember correctly.

This--

The crossovers aren't even subject to that, are they?

Michael S. Gruen:

--That's right.

According to the Court of Appeals, there may be no compensation for crossovers under any circumstances.

Mrs. Loretto then brought this action sounding in trespass, and the sole defense remaining after the elimination of a number of defenses by the Court of Appeals is Section 828, and we're presented therefore with the question of whether there are any extraordinary factors which take this case out of the usual rule that a landlord is entitled to exclusive possession, and particularly to exclusivity with respect to the installation of permanent installations on the property, particularly including television aerials and the like.

We have urged throughout this case the observance of a per se or absolute rule--

Excuse me, Mr. Gruen.

Michael S. Gruen:

--Yes, Justice Brennan.

There's no distinction made between commercial and residential property?

Michael S. Gruen:

No distinction was made between commercial and residential property, that's correct.

The Court of Appeals referred to rental properties in general.