WASHINGTON — AT&T Corp. and other major telephone companies on Monday won a U.S. Supreme Court fight to avoid breach-of-contract lawsuits by resellers and other customers who say they were offered special terms by the carrier.
The 7-1 decision killed a $1.1-million damage award against AT&T in its dispute with Oregon-based Central Office Telephone Inc., one of many firms that buy AT&T-discounted long-distance services and resell them to their own customers.
Central Office Telephone had charged that AT&T tried to drive the company out of business by delaying service and sending inaccurate bills to its customers. The company filed suit in Oregon, citing state laws against breach of contract and wrongful interference with commercial relationships.
An Oregon jury had awarded Central Office Telephone $13 million in actual damages.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the Supreme Court in a decision overturning a lower court ruling, barred Central Office Telephone's claims, saying they involved regulated rates and services covered by Federal Communications Commission tariffs.