Judge Mark D. Fox for an inquest concerning the questions outlined below.
The Communications Act has been held to create federal judicial cognizance of debt collection suits based on tariffs filed with the Federal Communications Commission. Ivy Broadcasting Co. v. AT&T, 391 F.2d 486 (2d Cir. 1968); MCI Communications v. Mr. K's Foods, 1989 WL 10939 (SDNY Dkt. No. 88 Civ. 776E, Feb. 10, 1989); see also Nordlicht v. New York Telephone, 799 F.2d 859, 862 (2d Cir. 1986).
While it may be argued that adjudication of debt collection suits involving relatively small amounts and similar cases involving what might be small claims in state courts may not be the best use of federal judicial resources, Congress has seen fit to create such jurisdiction in the context of ERISA (29 U.S.C. 1132[e]), suits against the United States (28 U.S.C. 1346[a]), and several other contexts. See Barbieri v. Hartsdale Post Office, 856 F. Supp. 817, 1994 WL 325411 (SDNY 1994); Derico v. IBM, 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4546, 1993 WL 106799 (SDNY 1993); Dickman v. FDR VA Hospital, 148 F.R.D. 513 (SDNY 1993); Shea v. Road Carriers Local 707 Welfare Fund, 818 F. Supp. 631 (SDNY 1993).
One advantage of such jurisdiction is uniformity in interpreting federal documents such as FCC-approved tariffs, with a view to efficient conduct of regulated activities and protection of the public. Such protection requires that debts due be collected with an view to fairness to both debtor and creditor. See MCI Communications v. Mr. K's Foods, supra.
Several questions are left open by the motion for a default judgment, which may be explored by means of the inquest.
First, while the complaint and affidavits refer to charges of $ 11,562.91 of which $ 1,000 was paid, the nature of the charges is not set forth and no copy of the bills involved is attached - this information will be necessary in determining whether plaintiff is entitled to relief.
Second, the segment of Tariff No. 1 attached to the complaint is only partially legible and does not appear to contain the method of calculating the charges asserted to be due pursuant to that tariff.
Third, while the complaint alleges in P 9 that the defendant has "refused to pay for the services MCI provided," the reasons given, if any, for such refusal are not provided. If such reasons include any objections to the validity of the claim, that matter should be inquired into as part of the inquest.
If, on the other hand, the reason for payment of $ 1,000 but not the balance is stated to be - or may be found upon the inquest in fact to be - financial difficulties, then an appropriate payment schedule may permit the defendant to remain in business while providing for payments to the creditor.
Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 69, state law governs enforcement of judgments, thus making applicable New York Civ.Prac.L. & R. 5240, which provides:
The court may at any time, on its own initiative or on the motion of any interested person, and upon such notice as it may require, make an order denying, limiting, conditioning, regulating, extending or modifying the use of any enforcement procedure.