Sprint Communications v. APCC Services

APCC Services and others sued Sprint Communications and others to obtain compensation they claim that Sprint owes them pursuant to a regulation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). APCC is a payphone service provider (PSP); Sprint is an interexchange carrier (IXC). The IXCs moved to dismiss the claim because PSPs did not have standing to sue. The district court denied the motions, concluding the PSPs had standing. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed, holding that the PSPs did have standing. The IXCs petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari; the Court vacated the decision and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals, ordering it to reconsider in light of its opinion in Global Crossing Telecommunications, Inc. v. Metrophones Telecommunications, Inc.

On remand, the Court of Appeals reaffirmed the district court's order that the PSPs had standing to sue.

Question Presented:

Federal regulations require petitioner telephone companies to make certain payments to the owners of payphones (“payphone service providers” or “PSPs”). This case arises from the PSPs’ assignments to other companies - respondents here - of the right to litigate their dispute with petitioners over the amount of compensation. After the PSPs assigned their claims to respondents “for purposes of collection” and agreed to finance the litigation, respondents sued petitioners “on behalf of” the PSPs. Under the assignments, respondents can gain or lose nothing from the outcome of the case because all the proceeds will go to the PSPs. A
divided panel of the D.C. Circuit nonetheless held that respondents have standing to sue petitioners.

The question presented is:

Whether the assignment of a claim “for purposes of collection” confers standing on assignees which have no personal stake in the case and which avowedly litigate only “on behalf of” the assignors.

Decision under Review

Supreme Court Opinion