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Korein Tillery's Eighth Circuit Appellate Win Sends Municipalities' DirecTV Fee Fight To State Court

January 26, 2023

As reported by Law360 (registration required), Korein Tillery secured a victory before the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on January 26, 2023, when the Eighth Circuit affirmed a lower court's ruling that a suit brought by Missouri municipalities seeking unpaid fees from DirecTV and Dish Network under Missouri's Video Services Providers Act should be heard in state court. Korein Tillery represents municipalities seeking unpaid fees provided by the Act from the defendants, who sent video through wireline facilities in the public right-of-way to customers.

DirecTV and Dish Network argued that the case, which seeks among other things millions of dollars in fees that should have been paid to Missouri municipalities, should not proceed in state court, where the state court had rejected the defendants' motions to dismiss the case. Korein Tillery partner Garrett Broshuis argued the appeal before the Eighth Circuit on behalf of the municipalities, contending that the defendants' "position amounts to federal paternalism, paying short shrift to the federal-state balance that the [U.S.] Supreme Court has repeatedly instructed lower courts to respect."

The Eighth Circuit agreed with Korein Tillery and the municipalities, holding that the comity doctrine generally requires federal courts to defer to state courts on state tax and fee controversies or similar revenue issues. Korein Tillery partner Steven M. Berezney, primary author of the brief, commented that he was "pleased that the Eighth Circuit agreed with us that cases like this belong in state court."

Korein Tillery currently represents numerous municipalities in Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, and Texas in similar lawsuits seeking unpaid fees from companies such as Disney, Netflix, Hulu, DirecTV, and Dish Network.

Korein Tillery attorneys working on this matter include Steven M. Berezney, Garrett Broshuis, John Hoffman, and Devin Dippold. Korein Tillery is joined in this case by Carl J. Lumley of Curtis Heinz Garrett & O'Keefe PC; Howard Paperner and Elkin Kistner of Bick & Kistner; and John F. Mulligan Jr.

The case is City of Creve Coeur et al. v. DirecTV LLC and Dish Network Corp. et al., Case No 21-3090, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. A copy of the Eighth Circuit's opinion can be downloaded here.


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