Friday, November 22, 2013

Direct Marketing Association Re-files Challenge to Colorado Notice and Reporting Law in State Court

We have been updating readers on developments regarding the court challenge brought by the Direct Marketing Association (“DMA”) to a 2010 Colorado law that purported to require Internet retailers and other remote sellers that do not collect Colorado sales tax to: (1) give certain notices to their Colorado customers regarding the purchaser’s obligation to self-report Colorado use tax; and (2) file reports with the Colorado Department of Revenue detailing the private purchasing information of their Colorado customers. The DMA won a preliminary injunction in January 2011 in federal District Court suspending the law on the grounds that it violated the Commerce Clause. The Court later made the injunction permanent when it awarded the DMA summary judgment in March 2012. The State appealed.

In August 2013, the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled on its own initiative that the Tax Injunction Act (“TIA”) barred federal court jurisdiction over the DMA’s claims. The Court of Appeals did not reach the merits of the DMA’s Commerce Clause claims, but rather ordered that the claims be dismissed on procedural grounds. The Court held that the DMA was required under the TIA to bring its claims in Colorado state court. The DMA requested rehearing on the jurisdictional issue, but the Tenth Circuit declined in early October to rehear the matter. The Court of Appeals then issued a mandate to the District Court on October 9, directing the lower court to dissolve the injunction and dismiss the claims. (The District Court has not yet implemented the mandate, so for now the federal injunction remains in place.)

On November 5, 2013, the DMA re-filed its challenge to the Colorado notice and reporting law in state District Court in Denver. At the same time, the DMA moved for a preliminary injunction, in order to continue the suspension of the law after the federal court injunction is lifted. Briefing on the motion for a preliminary injunction is expected to conclude in December, with a hearing on the motion likely to be scheduled for early January 2014. The DMA will request that the state court rule on the injunction request prior to January 31, the deadline under the law for retailers to send certain annual notices to customers who purchased at least $500 in goods from the retailers in the prior year.

Brann & Isaacson partners George Isaacson and Matthew Schaefer are co-counsel to the DMA in connection with the appeal.

We will keep you apprised of further developments in the state court proceeding.

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