Century Tel of Alabama, LLC v. Dothan/Houston Cty Comm. Dist.Annotate this Case
Dothan/Houston County Communications District and Ozark/Dale County E-911, Inc. ("the districts"), sued Century Tel of Alabama, LLC ("CTA"), and Qwest Communications Company, LLC (collectively, "the defendants"), seeking, among other things, to recover E-911 charges that the defendants were alleged to have not properly billed and collected in accordance with the Emergency Telephone Service Act ("ETSA"). The defendants moved the circuit court to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Ala. R. Civ. P. The circuit court denied the defendants' motion. The defendants then petitioned the Supreme Court for permission to appeal from the circuit court's interlocutory order. The defendants contended that the "repealed-statute rule" prohibited the districts from suing to collect unpaid 911 charges requested to be levied prior to October 1, 2013. Specifically, the defendants argued that no cause of action could be brought for violation of a statute after that statute had been repealed. Further, the defendants argued that the districts' claims were barred because the ETSA did not authorize a private right of action against telephone-service providers for failing to bill and collect the 911 charges from subscribers. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court. The Court found the statute at issue here was not repealed by subsequent acts by the Legislature, but amended, and civil actions were expressly authorized by Alabama law to bill and collect the 911 fees used by E-911 services to operate and maintain the emergency-communications system.