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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 1999

million figure accepted by the trial judge, who had relied on rental rates in "comparable" leases for a "perpetual corridor longitudinal easement." It said the judge should have admitted more evidence on other valuation methods.

The court explained that by agreeing on "fair market value," the parties had intended to use the ATF ("across the fence") method, which sets rent based on the intrinsic market value of various linear segments of the easement, reflecting cumulative market value of land parcels adjacent to each segment. Using an ATF method, an appraiser for the railroad had figured annual rent as high as $17 million. So. Pacific Transp. Co. v. Santa Fe Pacific Pipelines Inc., No. A079430, 1999 WL 718660, Sept. 15, 1999 (Cal.App.).

Liability for Outages. Reversing precedent, a Missouri appeals court upheld a utility tariff that disclaimed liability for damages from outages caused by simple negligence, though it voided a separate clause in the tariff disclaiming liability based on willful or wanton negligence. The appeals court ruled on receiving a legal opinion from the state Supreme Court on certified questions of law. Danisco Ingredients USA Inc. v. Kansas City P&L Co., No. WD 55347, 1999 WL 710108, Sept. 14, 1999 (Mo.App.).

Customer Privacy. In a victory for the telecom industry, a federal appeals court struck down rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission that had forced telephone carriers to obtain permission from customers before releasing certain proprietary account information, saying the FCC rule violated constitutional rights for commercial speech. It said the FCC failed to tailor the rule narrowly enough to balance privacy rights against market needs. U S West Inc. v. FCC, No. 98-9518, 1999 WL 639158, Aug. 18, 1999 (10th Cir.).

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