June 26, 2006

Court to review telecoms antitrust case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday
agreed to consider an appeal by the largest U.S. telephone
carriers aiming to dismiss a class-action antitrust suit
against them.

The high court granted the companies' petition to review an
appeals court ruling that held the class-action suit filed
against Verizon Communications Inc., BellSouth Corp., Qwest
Communications International Inc. and AT&T Inc. could proceed
even without evidence to back up claims of an anti-competitive

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case and then
issue a decision during its upcoming term, which begins in

The lawsuit said the telecommunications companies conspired
not to compete against one another in their respective
geographic markets for local telephone and high-speed Internet
services and prevented competitors from entering those markets.

A federal judge in New York dismissed the case for failing
to state a claim for which relief could be granted. The judge
ruled the lawsuit failed to allege sufficient facts from which
a conspiracy can be inferred.

But a U.S. appeals court ruled the judge had used the wrong
standard in reviewing the sufficiency of the allegations and
sent the case back for further proceedings.

The telecommunications companies appealed to the Supreme

They said the lawsuit under U.S. antitrust law alleges the
companies engaged in parallel conduct and participated in a
conspiracy, but failed to include any allegations that would
establish the existence of a conspiracy under the applicable
legal standard.

A number of business groups and companies supported the