Briefing continues in cross appeals of Anda Order

In its October 2014 Final Order (the “Anda Order”), the Federal Communications Commission found that it had the statutory authority to regulate solicited faxes by promulgating a rule that requires an opt-out notice on all such faxes, but also found that because of reasonable confusion surrounding the regulation, there was good cause to waive the rule for fax senders who had previously sent solicited faxes without the opt-out notice. Continue reading

The Big Chill: How The FCC’s Reading Of The TCPA Violates The First Amendment And Demands The Impossible

As the defense bar’s preeminent public resource on TCPA litigation and regulation, TCPA Blog has been invited to contribute a regular column to Law360. In the first such column, Bradley Andreozzi, Michael Daly, and Justin Kay discuss how the FCC’s interpretations of the TCPA violate the First Amendment rights. They write:

For an agency charged with regulating communications, the Federal Communications Commission has shown itself to be remarkably indifferent to First Amendment rights. In its recent brief in the consolidated appeal from its July 2015 omnibus ruling on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the FCC blandly assured the D.C. Circuit that “[e]very court” has held that the TCPA’s restrictions “easily pass muster under the First Amendment.” FCC Brief at 73-74. But it all but ignored that, rather than “directly challenge the TCPA’s constitutionality,” the petitioners in that appeal challenge the FCC’s “interpretations of the statute.” Id. at 72-73. On that issue, the D.C. Circuit will be writing on a clean slate, and the First Amendment challenges are serious.

They then highlight three serious First Amendment concerns, specifically that the FCC’s: (1) healthcare exemption restricts necessary speech; (2) recycled numbers ruling demands the impossible; and (3) ATDS interpretation is unconstitutionally vague.

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Bradley Andreozzi and Justin Kay Discuss TCPA in Modern Healthcare

TCPA Blog contributors Bradley Andreozzi and Justin Kay were recently featured in a Modern Healthcare article about a class action targeting Prospect Medical Group’s Southern California Hospital at Culver City. The suit alleges that the hospital violated the TCPA when its patient department called the plaintiff’s cell phone without the requisite consent in an effort to collect on a debt for services rendered at the facility. The article examined how the hospital became one of the first providers to be sued following the Federal Communications Commission’s July 2015 Omnibus ruling that narrowed the FCC’s reading of the scope of the required prior express consent for automated calls to patients. Continue reading

Two Amicus Briefs Filed in Support of the FCC’s July 10th Omnibus Ruling

On January 22, 2016, two amicus briefs were filed in support of the FCC’s July 10, 2015 Omnibus Ruling in the consolidated appeal before the District of Columbia Circuit. One brief was filed by the National Consumer Law Center, National Association of Consumer Advocates, Consumers Union, AARP, Consumer Federation of America, and MFY Legal Services (collectively the “NCLC Amici”). The other was filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”), Constitutional Alliance, Consumer Watchdog, Cyber Privacy Project, Patient Privacy Rights, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and Privacy Times (collectively the “EPIC Amici”). The main arguments of each brief are summarized below. Continue reading

Supreme Court Rules that Unaccepted Offer Does Not Moot a Claim But Leaves Door Open to Mooting Through Actual Payment

On January 20, 2016, the Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez. Although their reasoning differed, six of the Justices held that an unaccepted offer of complete relief does not in and of itself deprive a court of Article III jurisdiction by mooting a plaintiff’s claim.

The Majority Opinion

The majority opinion written by Justice Ginsburg adopted the reasoning of Justice Kagan’s dissent in Genesis HealthCare Corp. v. Symczyk. The majority reasoned that, under the language of Rule 68(b) and “basic principles of contract law,” an unaccepted offer of judgment, like an unaccepted offer to contract, is a legal nullity that “creates no lasting right or obligation” and has “no continuing efficacy.” The fact that the offer was unaccepted was critical to the majority’s reasoning because it meant that the plaintiff’s claim “stood wholly unsatisfied.” Indeed, the majority noted several times throughout its opinion that the plaintiff “gained no entitlement to the relief” previously offered and had not received the relief previously sought, and thus retained a personal stake in the outcome of the litigation. See Campbell-Ewald v. Gomez, No. 14-857, slip op. at 8-12 (Jan. 20, 2016).

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FCC Releases Order Denying Club Texting’s 2009 Petition on Text Broadcaster Liability Standards

On January 11, 2016, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (“Bureau”) acted on a petition filed in 2009, and denied Club Texting, Inc.’s (“Club Texting”) petition for declaratory ruling, which asked the FCC to clarify that text broadcasters are subject to the same TCPA liability standard as that applied to fax broadcasters. See In the Matter of Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991; Petition of Club Texting, Inc. for Declaratory Ruling, Order, CG Docket 02-278 (Jan. 11, 2016) (“Jan. 11 Order”); see also Club Texting, Inc. Petition for Declaratory Ruling that Text Broadcasters Are Not “Senders of Text Messages Under § 227(b)(1) of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, CG Docket 02-278 (Apr. 25, 2009) (“Club Texting Petition”).

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FCC Responds In Consolidated Appeal From Its July 2015 Omnibus Ruling

On Friday, January 15, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission filed its response to the arguments of the joint Petitioners in the consolidated appeal from its July 10, 2015 Omnibus Ruling. The Commission’s brief addresses the scope of its statutory authority, the definition of an “automatic telephone dialing system” (“ATDS”), the meaning of “called party” and the potential liability for calls to recycled numbers, the ability to revoke consent, healthcare-related calls and the emergency purpose exception, and First Amendment challenges to the Commission’s interpretations of the statute. Its main arguments are summarized below.

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District Courts Stay TCPA Cases in Light of Spokeo, Gomez, and D.C. Circuit Appeal

A number of federal district courts have recently stayed TCPA cases pending the outcome of Supreme Court proceedings in Robins v. Spokeo, Inc. and Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, and the outcome of petitions seeking review of the FCC’s July 10, 2015 Declaratory Ruling and Order (“FCC Order”) that are currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. See ACA Int’l, et al. v. F.C.C., No. 15-1211 (D.C. Cir. 2015).

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Court Finds Fault With Preliminary Approval Motion, Directs Plaintiff to Supplement Record

The Southern District of Alabama recently denied a plaintiff’s motion for preliminary approval of a proposed classwide settlement of TCPA claims. See Bennett v. Boyd Biloxi, LLC, No. 14-0330-WS-M, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163987 (S.D. Ala. Dec. 7, 2015). The plaintiff claims that he and some 70,000 other people received unlawful telemarketing calls promoting the defendant’s casino, resort, and spa. Describing the plaintiff’s motion as a “somewhat pro forma” submission that did not “come close to bearing his burden of persuading the Court to certify the proposed settlement class,” the court sent him back to the drawing board “to research and effectively present the legal argument . . . needed to support certification.”

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Human Intervention After The FCC’s Declaratory Ruling

A recent decision illustrates the uncertainties wrought by the “case-by-case” approach of the FCC’s July 2015 Declaratory Ruling when applied in litigation. In Sherman v. Yahoo, Inc., the plaintiff challenged Yahoo’s messenger service, which converted instant messages submitted by Yahoo users from their computers to text messages that would be received on mobile devices. Plaintiff claimed that the Yahoo service sent her mobile device an unsolicited welcome message using automated dialing technology in violation of the TCPA. Yahoo moved for summary judgment, arguing that its service was not an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) as defined by the TCPA because messages could not be sent without human intervention.

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