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Sprint Communications, Inc. v. Jacobs

571 U.S. 69 (2013)

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Sprint Communications, Inc. v. Jacobs

United States Supreme Court

571 U.S. 69 (2013)

Facts

Sprint Communications, Inc. (Sprint) (plaintiff) was paying fees to Windstream Iowa Communications (Windstream) in order to route calls to customers in Iowa. Sprint decided that they did not need to pay for a subset of calls because of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which Sprint claimed preempted state law. Sprint stopped payment to Windstream. Windstream responded by threatening to cut off service to Sprint’s Iowa customers. Sprint filed a complaint with the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) (defendant), which was headed by Elizabeth Jacobs. The parties then settled their dispute, and Sprint withdrew the complaint. The IUB decided to settle the dispute anyway, deciding that the dispute was likely to arise again and ultimately ruling that Sprint had to pay for the calls. Sprint claimed that the dispute was governed by federal law and, therefore, was not within the jurisdiction of the IUB. Sprint brought suit against the IUB in federal district court. The IUB filed a motion asking the district court to abstain. The district court granted the motion, and the circuit court affirmed. Sprint appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

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