DALLAS COUNTY, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — More documents have been filed in the civil case involving 25 Texas cities, including the city of Amarillo, suing three major streaming entertainment platforms over the payment of municipal franchise fees.
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, Amarillo, along with other cities in Texas including Abilene, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston, are suing Disney DTC, LLC, Hulu, LLC and Netflix, INC. after allegations that the entertainment platforms did not pay municipal franchise fees laid out in the state’s Public Utility Regulatory Act.
Under the act, also known as PURA, video service providers are required to pay Texas municipalities a franchise fee if programming is delivered via “wireline facilities located at least in part the public right of way,” including utility poles over streets, along sidewalks or beneath roads. Municipalities use these funds to fund basic city services.
According to the lawsuit, officially filed in Dallas County on Aug. 3, the plaintiffs’ legal team is arguing that the streaming entities “have ignored their statutory obligations to obtain a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and pay the required franchise fees, depriving Texas municipalities of the required compensation for their use of the right-of-way.”
The following cities joined the city of Amarillo in the lawsuit, according to the documents:
- Fort Worth;
- Grand Prairie;
- Sugar Land;
“PURA applies to Defendants, just as it applies to other companies furnishing video service,” the documents read. “…Plaintiffs seek to require Defendants to abide by PURA and to pay the franchise fees owed to Plaintiffs.”
The lawsuit lays out the plaintiffs’ belief that because the three streaming entities distribute video programming services to subscribers in the state, doing so through these wireline facilities, they should follow the law set out in PURA. The plaintiffs seek the recovery of franchise fees, claiming that the defendants’ use of “municipal public rights-of-way benefits only (the) Defendants, which are private parties.”
In response to the allegations, the plaintiffs’ legal team listed six declarations they would like to see come from the court. This includes:
- Request for Declaratory Relief: saying that the defendants are subject to PURA and have failed to submit accountings and pay franchise fees as required by PURA;
- Request for Injunctive Relief: saying that the defendants should be enjoined from using municipal public rights-of-way without compliance of PURA;
- Request for an Accounting: saying that the defendants should provide accounting information to the plaintiffs, so a figure surrounding the franchise fees can be made, as required by PURA;
- Trespass: saying that the defendants have “wrongfully entered and used Plaintiffs’ respective rights-of-way… without obtaining the proper state-issued certificate of franchise authority from the Texas Public Utility Commission, without obtaining authorization from Plaintiffs and without paying franchise fees or any other remuneration to Plaintiffs for such unauthorized use;”
- Unjust Enrichment and Monetary Relief: saying that the defendants own the plaintiffs the franchise fees, combined with compounded interest, both pre- and post-judgment;
- Request for Attorney’s Fees: saying that the defendants’ should be required to pay for the incurred costs and attorney’s fees from the “investigation and prosecution of (the plaintiffs’) claims.
According to the documents, the plaintiffs’ legal team is asking that the Court host a full trial on these claims. As of Tuesday, the only further documents filed in this lawsuit have been related to attorneys filing motions to appear “Pro Hac Vice,” or for this occasion only. This story will be updated once more documents are filed in this case.
This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.
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