Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court
No. SCWC-28948, Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 8:45 a.m.
PACIFIC LIGHTNET, INC., Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant/ Cross-Appellee, vs. TIME WARNER TELECOM, INC. and TIME WARNER TELECOM OF HAWAII, L.P., Respondents/Defendants-Appellees/Cross-Appellants (CV. NO. 03-1-2557). PACIFIC LIGHTNET, INC., Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, vs. TIME WARNER TELECOM OF HAWAII, L.P., a Delaware limited partnership, Respondent/Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant and ALVEN KAMP, Respondent/Defendant-Appellee (CV. NO. 05-1-0428).
The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Attorneys for Petitioner:
Margery S. Bronster and Rex Y. Fujichaku of Bronster Hoshibata
Attorneys for Respondents:
J. Douglas Ing, Brian A. Kang, and Emi L. M. Kaimuloa of Watanabe Ing LLP
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 05/29/13.
COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SRA, SSM, & RWP, JJ.
Petitioner Wavecom Solutions Corporation, formerly known as Pacific LightNet, Inc., along with Time Warner Telecom, Inc. and Time Warner Telecom of Hawai`i, L.P. (collectively, Respondent) are telecommunications carriers. In an action originally filed in the circuit court on December 30, 2003, Petitioner had claimed, among other things, that it had been wrongfully billed by Respondent for certain services that Petitioner never received, and that it was allegedly owed credits to its account from Respondent based on assets Petitioner had purchased. These claims are called the “Feature Group D claims.”
During the course of the litigation between the two parties before the circuit court, Respondent submitted a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. It argued that the nature of the Feature Group D claims required the expertise of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and thus, that the lawsuit was within the primary jurisdiction of the PUC. The circuit court did not decide the motion to dismiss when it was filed, but rather proceeded with a jury trial on the Feature Group D claims. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Petitioner on both claims. Following the jury trial, the court granted the motion to dismiss based on the primary jurisdiction of the PUC, and stayed the jury verdict.
Petitioner and Respondent both appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA). In its memorandum opinion filed on January 25, 2013, the ICA upheld the circuit court’s dismissal of the Feature Group D claims, holding that those claims were within the special competence of the PUC under the primary jurisdiction doctrine. It also vacated the jury verdict and the circuit court’s stay of the verdict, on the basis that the verdict violated what is known as the “filed-rate doctrine,” which relates to the tariffs that govern public utilities.
In its Application for Writ of Certiorari, Petitioner asks whether the ICA erred in (1) affirming the court’s application of the primary jurisdiction doctrine where the jury was capable of rendering a verdict based on the factual evidence at trial, and (2) holding that the jury’s verdict must be vacated because it violated the filed-rate doctrine where the jury was instructed on the terms and effect of the tariff and the reasonableness of the tariff was never challenged.