Summary of Decision April 25, 2013
Chief Justice Kite delivered the opinion for the Court. Affirmed and remanded.
Case Names: THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WYOMING v. QWEST CORPORATION.
RANGE TELEPHONE COOPERATIVE, INC., RT COMMUNICATIONS, INC., DUBOIS TELEPHONE EXCHANGE, INC. AND ADVANCED COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY, INC., v. QWEST CORPORATION.
TRI COUNTY TELEPHONE ASSOCIATION and TCT WEST, INC. v. QWEST CORPORATION.
THE OFFICE OF CONSUMER ADVOCATE v. THE PUBLIC SERVICES COMMISSION OF WYOMING.
Docket Number: S-12-0119; S-12-0120; S-12-0121; S-12-122
Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, Honorable Michael K. Davis, Judge.
Representing the Public Service Commission of Wyoming: Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; Martin L. Hardsocg, Deputy Attorney General; Ryan T. Schelhaas, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Michael M. Robinson, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Robinson.
Representing Qwest Corporation: Paul J. Hickey and O’Kelley H. Pearson of Hickey & Evans, LLP, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Argument by Mr. Pearson.
Representing Range Telephone Cooperative, Inc., RT Communications, Inc., Dubois Telephone Exchange, Inc., and Advanced Communications Technology, Inc.: Elizabeth Zerga of Jubin & Zerga of Jubin & Zerga LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Representing Tri County Telephone Association and TCT West, Inc.: Michael B. Rosenthal and Marianne Kunz Shanor of Hathaway& Kunz, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming. Argument by Ms. Shanor.
Representing the Office of Consumer Advocate: Alexander K. Davison of Patton & Davison, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Argument by Mr. Davison.
Date of Decision: April 25, 2013
Facts: The manager of the Wyoming Universal Service Fund (WUSF) filed confidential reports with the Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) containing his recommendations for the WUSF assessment level for fiscal years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. Upon notice from the PSC that public hearings would be held to consider the manager’s reports, Qwest asked for contested case hearings. Qwest also asserted it did not have sufficient information to allow it to determine whether the manager’s reports were correct.
The PSC denied Qwest’s requests for contested case hearings, concluding WUSF proceedings are legislative in nature. It convened public hearings and subsequently issued orders establishing the WUSF assessment levels as recommended by the manager. The Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) and Qwest filed petitions for review of the PSC order in the district court.
Before the district court, Qwest reiterated its argument that it could not address whether the PSC’s orders were in error without seeing all of the information the PSC relied upon. The PSC argued the telecommunications companies submitted the information necessary to make the WUSF determination under the promise of confidentiality. Range Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (Range), RT Communications, Inc. (RT), Dubois Telephone Exchange, Inc. (Dubois), and Advanced Communications Technology, Inc. (Advanced Communications) filed motions to intervene for the limited purpose of protecting their confidential data.
After an initial hearing, the district court ordered portions of the 2009 data to be provided to Qwest but denied the request for 2010 data. Subsequently, the district court held that the PSC erred in denying Qwest’s requests for contested case hearings, reversed the administrative orders and remanded the cases to the PSC for contested case hearings.
Four notices of appeal from the district court’s order were filed. In case No. S-12-0119, the PCS claimed the district court erred in granting Qwest access to confidential information and in holding that Qwest had a property interest and was entitled to a contested case hearing. In case No. S-12-0120, Range, RT, Dubois and Advanced Communications asserted the district court erred in granting Qwest access to confidential information. Tri County Telephone Association (Tri County) likewise challenged the district court’s order releasing the information in case No. S-12-0121. In case No. S-12-0122, the OCA asserted the PSC erred in concluding it was not required to hold contested case hearings.
Issues: This Court granted motions to consolidate the four appeals. The determinative issue for our consideration is whether Qwest was entitled to contested case hearings before the PSC.
Holdings: The Court affirmed on different grounds the district court’s holding that the PSC was required to convene contested case hearings and remanded these cases to the district court with directions to remand to the PSC for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court
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Thursday, April 25, 2013
Summary of Decision April 25, 2013