Satellite Cable Services, Inc. v. Northern Electric Co-op., Inc., No. 20046

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtKONENKAMP
Citation581 N.W.2d 478,1998 SD 67
Docket NumberNo. 20046
Decision Date01 July 1998
PartiesSATELLITE CABLE SERVICES, INC., Plaintiff and Appellee, v. NORTHERN ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC., a South Dakota Corporation, and its Wholly-Owned Subsidiary Northern Rural Cable TV Cooperative, Inc., Defendants and Appellants.

Page 478

581 N.W.2d 478
1998 SD 67
SATELLITE CABLE SERVICES, INC., Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
NORTHERN ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC., a South Dakota
Corporation, and its Wholly-Owned Subsidiary
Northern Rural Cable TV Cooperative,
Inc., Defendants and Appellants.
No. 20046.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
Argued Jan. 13, 1998.
Decided July 1, 1998.

Monte R. Walz of Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz and Smith, Sioux Falls, for plaintiff and appellee.

Harvey A. Oliver, Jr. of Richards & Oliver, Aberdeen, James A. O'Neal of Faegre & Benson LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for defendants and appellants.

KONENKAMP, Justice.

¶1 After the circuit court enjoined an electric cooperative and its subsidiary from offering cable television service in violation of a statute, the Legislature amended the law to remove the prohibition. We therefore set aside the injunction as no longer sustainable under the amended statute, but remand the case for trial on the issue of damages incurred during the time the cooperative violated the former statute by competing in a municipality with an operating cable television service. Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Facts

¶2 Northern Electric Cooperative, Inc., organized under SDCL ch 47-21, with its principal office in Bath, South Dakota, supplies electricity to rural communities in the northeastern part of the state. Northern Electric belongs to another cooperative it created, Northern Rural Cable TV, Inc., formed to bring television signals to rural areas and small towns. Northern Cable initially furnished wireless subscription service to several Pierpont, South Dakota residents through a multichannel, multipoint distribution system (MMDS). MMDS delivers programming over microwave channels beamed to subscribers who have special antennas on or near their homes. See SDCL 22-44-4.

¶3 In April 1994, Northern Cable began converting to a community antenna television system (CATV), offering cable service to subscribers in Pierpont. 1 Since 1988, however, Satellite Cable Services, Inc., held an exclusive franchise to provide cable television to Pierpont residents. Satellite brought suit seeking both declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages for interference with contractual and prospective contractual relations. Shortly afterwards, Northern Cable agreed to withdraw the offending CATV system. Then, in September 1995, after obtaining a franchise from the Pierpont Board of Trustees to offer CATV, Northern Cable began reconnecting its subscribers to the same system.

¶4 The circuit court granted summary judgment to Satellite, holding that Northern Electric violated SDCL 47-21-2, and ordering that it be prohibited "from providing television service to Pierpont." Northern Electric and Northern Cable appeal raising the following questions: (1) Must the injunctive and declaratory relief be reversed because during appeal SDCL 47-21-2 was amended to allow rural electric cooperatives to participate in the subscription television industry? (2) Was Northern Electric authorized by statute to become a member of

Page 480

Northern Cable? (3) Whether Northern Cable, as a distinct corporate entity, could provide CATV and MMDS service to Pierpont? (4) Did the circuit court properly reject Northern Electric's and Northern Cable's constitutional and federal preemption claims?

Standard of Review

¶5 Under our well-versed standard for reviewing a grant or denial of summary judgment, we must decide if the moving party established the absence of any genuine issue of material fact and demonstrated entitlement to judgment on the merits as a matter of law. We view the evidence most favorably to the nonmoving party and resolve reasonable doubts against the moving party. When summary judgment is supported as provided in § 15-6-56, the nonmovant may not rest on allegations or denials in the pleadings, but must respond by affidavit or as otherwise provided in § 15-6-56, and set forth particulars showing genuine fact issues exist for trial. SDCL 15-6-56(e); Baatz v. Arrow Bar, 452 N.W.2d 138, 140 (S.D.1990). If any basis exists to support summary judgment, affirmance is proper. Petersen v. Dacy, 1996 SD 72, p 5, 550 N.W.2d 91, 92 (citing Trippet Special Trust v. Blevins, 1996 SD 29, p 6, 545 N.W.2d 216, 221); Waddell v. Dewey Cty. Bank, 471 N.W.2d 591, 593 (S.D.1991); see also Wilson v. Great N. Ry. Co., 83 S.D. 207, 211, 157 N.W.2d 19, 21 (1968). Statutory interpretation presents a question of law reviewable de novo. Lustig v. Lustig, 1997 SD 24, p 5, 560 N.W.2d 239, 241; Moss v. Guttormson, 1996 SD 76, p 10, 551 N.W.2d 14, 17; Wharf Res., Inc. v. Farrier, 1996 SD 110, p 5, 552 N.W.2d 610, 612.

Analysis and Decision

1. Effect of Statutory Amendment While Appeal Pending

¶6 At the time of the circuit court's decision, SDCL 47-21-2 (1994) provided in part:

Cooperatives may provide television service which includes multi-channel multi-point distribution systems, including those which utilize coaxial cable, and direct broadcast satellite service, and may provide programming to customers via a CATV system, as defined in § 9-35-16, in any municipality which does not have an operating CATV system.

The circuit court held that the activities of Northern Electric and its wholly owned subsidiary, Northern Cable, violated this enactment by providing CATV service to the city of Pierpont. After judgment, the statute was amended to broaden the authorized activities for cooperatives.

Cooperatives may be organized under this chapter for any lawful purpose except banking, securities, and insurance. Cooperatives proposing to provide local exchange telephone service in a rural telephone company's service area may do so only in compliance with the procedures contained in section 251(f) of the Communication Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

SDCL 47-21-2 (1997)(emphasis added).

¶7 If, during an appeal, a statutory change is controlling, we see no virtue in remanding to the trial court to examine an enactment we are equally capable of interpreting. Illinois Indep. Tel. Ass'n v. Commerce Comm'n, 183 Ill.App.3d 220, 132 Ill.Dec. 154, 539 N.E.2d 717, 722 (1988)(citing Rios v. Jones, 63 Ill.2d 488, 348 N.E.2d 825, 828 (1976)); Haines Pipeline Const., Inc. v. MPC, 251 Mont. 422, 830 P.2d 1230, 1238 (1991), overruled on other grounds, Porter v. Galarneau, 275 Mont. 174, 911 P.2d 1143 (1996); State v. Board of Cty. Com'rs of Lyon Cty., 234 Kan. 732, 676 P.2d 134, 139 (1984); Day v. Child Support Enforce. Div., 272 Mont. 170, 900 P.2d 296, 300 (1995); Texas Cty. Irr. & Water Res. Ass'n v. Okl...

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24 practice notes
  • Blanks v. Fluor Corp., No. ED 97810.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • September 16, 2014
    ...corporate veil and one for agency, with two separate holdings); see also, e.g., Satellite Cable Servs., Inc. v. N. Elec. Co–op., Inc., 581 N.W.2d 478, 481–82 (S.D.1998) (noting “a parent corporation may be held accountable for the conduct of its subsidiary when an agency relationship exists......
  • Sanford v. Sanford, No. 23175
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • March 9, 2005
    ...statute is a question of law. Zoss v. Schaefers, 1999 SD 105, ¶ 6, 598 N.W.2d 550, 552 (citing Satellite Cable Srvs. v. Northern Electric, 1998 SD 67, ¶ 5, 581 N.W.2d 478, 480). We review question of law under the de novo standard. Therkildsen v. Fisher Beverage, 1996 SD 39, ¶ 8, 545 N.W.2d......
  • Carpenter v. City of Belle Fourche, No. 20901
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • April 26, 2000
    ...the nonmoving party and resolve reasonable doubts against the moving party. Satellite Cable Services, Inc. v. Northern Elec. Coop., Inc., 1998 SD 67, ¶ 5, 581 N.W.2d 478, 480. As we take an independent review of the record, we are not bound by the trial judge's factual assessments in granti......
  • State v. Asmussen, No. 23477.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • April 12, 2006
    ...6, 686 N.W.2d 651, 653 (citing Zoss v. Schaefers, 1999 SD 105, ¶ 6, 598 N.W.2d 550, 552 (citing Satellite Cable Srvs. v. Northern Electric, 1998 SD 67, ¶ 5, 581 N.W.2d 478, 480)). "Statutory construction is used to discover the true intention of the law which is ascertained primarily from t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • Blanks v. Fluor Corp., No. ED 97810.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • September 16, 2014
    ...corporate veil and one for agency, with two separate holdings); see also, e.g., Satellite Cable Servs., Inc. v. N. Elec. Co–op., Inc., 581 N.W.2d 478, 481–82 (S.D.1998) (noting “a parent corporation may be held accountable for the conduct of its subsidiary when an agency relationship exists......
  • Sanford v. Sanford, No. 23175
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • March 9, 2005
    ...statute is a question of law. Zoss v. Schaefers, 1999 SD 105, ¶ 6, 598 N.W.2d 550, 552 (citing Satellite Cable Srvs. v. Northern Electric, 1998 SD 67, ¶ 5, 581 N.W.2d 478, 480). We review question of law under the de novo standard. Therkildsen v. Fisher Beverage, 1996 SD 39, ¶ 8, 545 N.W.2d......
  • Carpenter v. City of Belle Fourche, No. 20901
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • April 26, 2000
    ...the nonmoving party and resolve reasonable doubts against the moving party. Satellite Cable Services, Inc. v. Northern Elec. Coop., Inc., 1998 SD 67, ¶ 5, 581 N.W.2d 478, 480. As we take an independent review of the record, we are not bound by the trial judge's factual assessments in granti......
  • State v. Asmussen, No. 23477.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • April 12, 2006
    ...6, 686 N.W.2d 651, 653 (citing Zoss v. Schaefers, 1999 SD 105, ¶ 6, 598 N.W.2d 550, 552 (citing Satellite Cable Srvs. v. Northern Electric, 1998 SD 67, ¶ 5, 581 N.W.2d 478, 480)). "Statutory construction is used to discover the true intention of the law which is ascertained primarily f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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