What Are the Parameters of the Filed Rate ?
In AT&T Co. v. Central Office Telephone (1998) 524 U.S. 214 141 L. Ed. 2d 222, 118 S. Ct. 1956 (Central Office), the United States Supreme Court elucidated the parameters of the filed rate doctrine.
There, the carrier, petitioner AT&T, allegedly promised to the respondent Central Office, a reseller of long distance services, special promotional discounts and services not available to other customers if it would enter into a four-year contract.
When AT&T failed to deliver, Central Office sued and won a jury verdict in the federal district court against AT&T for fraudulent misrepresentation and tortious interference with contract. (Id. at pp. 219-221 141 L. Ed. 2d at pp. 229-232.)
The Supreme Court reversed, holding that enforcement of the judgment would contravene the filed rate doctrine by, in effect, granting the plaintiff preferences in service and rates not available to other customers and not included in the published tariff. (Central Office, supra, 524 U.S. at pp. 224-226 141 L. Ed. 2d at pp. 234-235.)
Moreover, it did not matter whether AT&T's conduct was negligent or fraudulent: all customers are charged with knowledge of the tariffs; thus "even if a carrier intentionally misrepresents its rate and a customer relies on the misrepresentation, the carrier cannot be held to the promised rate if it conflicts with the published tariff." (Id. at p. 222 141 L. Ed. 2d at p. 233, citing Kansas City S. R. Co. v. Carl (1913) 227 U.S. 639, 653 57 L. Ed. 683, 688-689, 33 S. Ct. 391.)