DALLAS, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In documents filed in Dallas Federal Court earlier this month, the legal teams representing the 25 Texas cities in the streaming lawsuit against Disney, Hulu and Netflix continued to request that the overall case be remanded back to state court instead of remaining in federal court.
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, the initial lawsuit, filed in state court by 25 Texas cities including the city of Amarillo, alleged that the three streaming entities did not pay required municipal franchise fees to the cities, something that they allege is required according to the Texas Public Utility Regulatory Act, or PURA. The legal teams representing the streaming services then filed a notice of removal, moving the case to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas Dallas Division.
After this notice of removal to federal court, the cities are requesting the case be moved back to state court, arguing that the central question in this case is interpreting state statute, something that they believe state courts should interpret, not federal court. The streaming services however continued to stress that the requirements to move the case to federal court have easily been met, according to previous reports, also stating that other similar cases to this one have been “fully and finally adjudicated.”
The cities continue to argue that the main dispute is the scope of PURA, impacting the state and its municipalities, along with determining the state’s legislature’s intent on passing the act, documents filed on Nov. 3 in Dallas Federal Court state.
“This case ultimately will require a ruling that affects the fiscal operations of Texas and Texas municipalities,” the documents read. “Five other federal courts, in cases involving similar state statutes and in suits involving at least some of the Defendants here, have held these cases should be remanded to state courts based on the Supreme Court’s comity doctrine. None have refused to remand.”
According to previous reports, officials at the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School defined “comity” as a rule where courts should respect laws and judicial decisions of other jurisdictions, stating that federal courts should not rule on a state law before a state court has the chance to do so.
The cities continue to stress that the comity abstention is proper, with the cities seeking a “declaratory judgment that (the streaming services) are subject to PURA and then the follow-on equitable relief to establish back fees that Defendants owe under that statute but have not paid – concrete monetary relief that is the direct consequence of the declaration and is not akin to common-law ‘damages’,” according to the documents.
Ultimately, the cities argue that Texas municipalities and courts should not be treated differently that the other municipalities which have tried similar cases, listing Indiana, Missouri, Louisiana, Illinois and Georgia. They also claim that the legal teams for the streaming services have “failed to explain why this case is better suited for federal court than state court.”
“Defendants’ position amounts to federal paternalism, paying short shrift to the federal-state balance that the Supreme Court has repeatedly instructed lower courts to respect,” the documents state. “The case should be remanded to Texas state court.”
As of Friday, no further documents, for final decisions regarding the decision to remand, have been filed in this case in Dallas Federal Court.
This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.
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