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PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc.

Supreme Court of the United States

March 25, 2019, Argued; June 20, 2019, Decided

No. 17-1705.

Opinion

Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case concerns two federal statutes, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (Telephone Act) and the Administrative Orders Review Act [***4]  (Hobbs Act). The first statute generally makes it unlawful for any person to send an “unsolicited advertisement” by fax. 47 U. S. C. §227(b)(1)(C). The second statute provides that the federal courts of appeals have “exclusive jurisdiction to enjoin, set aside, suspend (in whole or in part), or to determine the validity of” certain “final orders of the Federal Communication Commission.” 28 U. S. C. §2342(1).

In 2006, the FCC issued an Order stating that the term “unsolicited advertisement” in the Telephone Act includes certain faxes that “promote goods or services even at no cost,” including “free magazine subscriptions” and “catalogs.” 21 FCC Rcd. 3787, 3814. The question here is whether the Hobbs Act’s vesting of “exclusive jurisdiction” in the courts of appeals to “enjoin, set aside, suspend,” or “determine the validity” of FCC “final orders” means that a district court must adopt, and consequently follow, the FCC’s Order interpreting the term “unsolicited advertisement” as including certain faxes that promote “free” goods.

We have found it difficult to answer this question, for the answer may depend upon the resolution of two preliminary issues. We therefore vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand this case so that the Court of Appeals [***5]  can consider these preliminary issues.

Petitioners (PDR Network, PDR Distribution, and PDR Equity, collectively referred  [*2054]  to here as PDR) produce the Physicians’ Desk Reference, a publication that compiles information about the uses and side effects of various prescription drugs. PDR makes money by charging pharmaceutical companies that wish to include their drugs in the Reference, and it distributes the Reference to health care providers for free. In 2013, PDR announced that it would publish a new e-book version of the Reference. It advertised the e-book to health care providers by sending faxes stating that providers could reserve a free copy on PDR’s website.

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139 S. Ct. 2051 *; 204 L. Ed. 2d 433 **; 2019 U.S. LEXIS 4181 ***; 27 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 946; 2019 WL 2527470

PDR NETWORK, LLC, et al., Petitioners v. CARLTON & HARRIS CHIROPRACTIC, INC.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [***1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT

Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc. v. PDR Network, LLC, 883 F.3d 459, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 4380 (4th Cir. W. Va., Feb. 23, 2018)

Disposition: 883 F. 3d 459, vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

pre-enforcement, facial, advertisement, unsolicited, sentence, fax, as-applied, incorrect, default, enjoin, suspend, deference, vacate

Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Telemarketing, Business & Corporate Compliance, Communications Law, Federal Acts, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Communications Law, Public Enforcement, Orders & Hearings, Judicial Review, Civil Procedure, US Supreme Court Review