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In re Intramata Switched Access Charges Litigation

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

May 3, 2017

IN RE INTRAMTA SWITCHED ACCESS CHARGES LITIGATION THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO Civil Nos. 315-CV-0931-D, 314-CV-4580-D, 314-CV-4581-D, 315-CV-1179-D, 315-CV-0114-D, 314-CV-4446-D, 315-CV-1070-D, 315-CV-1102-D, 314-CV-4573-D, 314-CV-4546-D, 315-CV-0036-D, 314-CV-4424-D, 314-CV-4472-D, 315-CV-0705-D, 315-CV-0260-D, 314-CV-4564-D, 314-CV-4420-D, 314-CV-4577-D, 315-CV-0034-D, 315-CV-1071-D, 314-CV-4470-D, 315-CV-0066-D, 315-CV-1053-D, 314-CV-4547-D, 314-CV-4469-D, 315-CV-0563-D, 315-CV-1069-D, 315-CV-0142-D, 315-CV-1040-D, 315-CV-1177-D, 315-CV-0044-D, 315-CV-0020-D, 314-CV-4428-D, 314-CV-1724-D, 315-CV-0040-D. MDL No. 2587

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SIDNEY A. FITZWATER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Following this court's decision in In re IntraMTA Switched Access Charges Litigation, 2015 WL 7252948 (N.D. Tex. Nov. 17, 2015) (Fitzwater, J.) (“IntraMTA I”), plaintiff Sprint Communications Company L.P. (“Sprint”) has amended its complaints. Defendants move to strike or dismiss the amended complaints under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) and 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the court grants the motions under Rule 12(b)(6) and dismisses Sprint's state-law claims with prejudice.

         I

         The court assumes the parties' familiarity with the background facts and procedural history recounted in its prior memorandum opinions and orders filed in this case. See IntraMTA I, 2015 WL 7252948, at *1-3; In re IntraMTA Switched Access Charges Litig., 2017 WL 1078522 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 22, 2017) (Fitzwater, J.). In IntraMTA I the court dismissed plaintiffs' complaints, but permitted them to replead their state-law claims:

Although the court is granting defendants' joint motion to dismiss, it will permit plaintiffs to replead their state-law claims. . . . In this case, the defects in Plaintiffs' federal-law claims are incurable: these claims are barred by the filed rate doctrine regardless how plaintiffs replead, because LECs are permitted under federal law to charge [interexchange carriers (“IXCs”)] access fees for the access services at issue. But the court cannot say that the defects in Plaintiffs' state-law claims are similarly incurable. For example, in support of their state-law claims, plaintiffs maintain in their response that a number of defendants' state tariffs expressly prohibit access charges for intraMTA calls. Plaintiffs may therefore be able to plausibly allege a state-law claim, at least on the basis that a specific state law or a filed state tariff actually prohibits the defendant LEC from charging IXCs access charges for the intrastate intraMTA calls at issue. . . . Accordingly, within 28 days of the date this memorandum opinion and order is filed, plaintiffs may file amended complaints that replead their state-law claims.

IntraMTA I, 2015 WL 7252948, at *14.

         On May 16, 2016 Sprint filed amended complaints.[1] It also filed a notice (“Notice”) “to explain the purpose of its re-pleaded claims.” P. Notice at 2. In the Notice, Sprint explains that its re-pleaded claims “are similar to the ones the Court has already dismissed, ” but it notes that it has “added references to state law where applicable, and removed its federal-law claims.” Id. Sprint further explains:

As the Court recognized, its holding with respect to the federal intraMTA rule precludes Sprint's argument that state tariffs are unlawful insofar as they require the payment of access charges. In light of the Court's ruling, and after a review of its complaints Sprint concludes that it does not wish to plead any additional causes of action beyond what it has already pleaded. Sprint confirms that its state-law claims are based on the allegations that defendants' intrastate tariffs incorporate the federal intraMTA rule for intrastate intraMTA traffic. Sprint believes that the Court's earlier ruling is sufficient to preserve Sprint's claims on appeal, and believes it would be entitled to stand on its original complaint and have the Court dismiss those claims with prejudice rather than re-pleading state-law claims . . . . Nevertheless, because the Court's original dismissal of Sprint's state-law claims was not final and the language in the Court's order that stated that Sprint “failed to plead a facially plausible claim, ” Sprint is re-pleading those claims to ensure the claims are preserved for appeal. Sprint anticipates that the Court will dismiss them with prejudice for the reasons stated in its November 17, 2015 Order.

Id. at 2-3 (emphasis added) (citations omitted).

         Defendants move to strike Sprint's amended complaints under Rule 12(f). They contend that the amended complaints are inconsistent with IntraMTA I; that, by Sprint's own admission, the amended complaints are unauthorized, considering that Sprint admits that the amended complaints do not identify any provision of state law or specific filed state tariff giving rise to claims independent of federal law; and that Sprint has added (without leave of court) a new factual allegation and new legal arguments that have the effect of amending Sprint's federal claims. Defendants also move to dismiss Sprint's amended complaints under Rule 12(b)(6). They contend that the court has already rejected Sprint's interpretation of federal law, and Sprint's amended state-law claims should be dismissed because the claims rely on Sprint's discredited interpretation of federal law; and that Sprint's theory that its state-law claims automatically “mirror” federal law has no support because a violation of federal law does not create a state-law claim for breach of tariff, and Sprint would have to identify a federal-law cause of action regarding intrastate charges, which it has never done. Sprint opposes defendants' motions.

         II

         The court considers first whether Sprint's amended complaints should be stricken in whole or in part under Rule 12(f), which permits the court to strike from the pleadings “any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.”

         A

         Defendants contend that the court specifically stated in IntraMTA I that Sprint's state-law claims based on its federal law theory were invalid, and that it granted Sprint leave to amend its state-law claims, but only by identifying specific state laws or state tariffs that give rise to causes of action independent of federal law; that, in the amended complaints, Sprint does not allege any state-law claims arising from state laws or state tariffs independent of federal law, but has instead merely re-filed the same state-law claims (based on federal law) that the court previously dismissed; that because the court did not authorize Sprint to re-file its defective state-law claims based on federal law, the amended complaints should be stricken; that even if the court allows the amendments to Sprint's state-law claims, it should strike or dismiss the parts of the amended complaints related to Sprint's federal-law claims; and that Sprint is precluded by the doctrine of judicial estoppel from changing the factual allegations underpinning its federal-law claims-i.e., alleging that it is a “transit carrier” when it previously alleged that it was an IXC.

         Sprint responds that, as the court permitted it to do in IntraMTA I, the amended complaints identify new state laws and provide additional detail to support its claims that these laws apply. It explains that the defect the court identified in IntraMTA I with respect to Sprint's state-law claims was a lack of detail and a lack of citation to specific provisions of state law, and that it has addressed this defect by citing additional authorities and pleading facts that show that these authorities apply. Regarding its allegation that it is a “transit provider, ” Sprint contends that this allegation supports its re-pleaded state-law claims; that its amended complaint adds citations to authorities in Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin for the proposition that transiting carriers are not required to pay access charges on intraMTA traffic; that Sprint's amended complaints do not contain any federal-law claims, so a phrase added to support state-law claims could not possibly affect Sprint's dismissed claims; that Sprint's complaints also referred to transit carriers, and Sprint has already argued to the court that there is no distinction between IXCs and transit carriers; that, even if the specific allegation that Sprint is an IXC or transit carrier did not appear in Sprint's complaints, it does not constitute a new argument, affect the court's analysis of whether to dismiss Sprint's claims, or justify striking ...


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