Commissioner O’Reilly Calls for FCC Action on Backlog of Petitions

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In a March 25, 2014 blog post titled “TCPA: It is Time to Provide Clarity,” Commissioner O’Reilly recognized the pressing need for clarity and called for the FCC to act “as soon as possible.” (Read entire post on the Official FCC Blog here).  Commissioner O’Reilly’s comments on the past year’s dramatic increase in TCPA litigation and the significant inventory of pending petitions echoes the concerns raised by many petitioners and highlights the fact that fear of litigation is discouraging businesses from offering communications services to consumers. (Prior blog posts addressing a number of the individual petitions filed before the FCC can be found here, here, and here.)  As a result, Commissioner O’Reilly points out, consumers are not receiving the “notifications and offers that they want and expect.”  This outcome is inconsistent with the balance “between protecting consumers from unwanted communications and enabling legitimate businesses to reach out to consumers that wish to be contacted” that Congress sought to achieve through the TCPA, and requires the FCC to “take a hard look at its own precedent” and “tackl[e] this backlog in a comprehensive manner.”

Two days after Commissioner O’Reilly’s remarks, the FCC granted in part two petitions for expedited declaratory ruling. (The FCC’s March 27, 2014 rulings are available here and here.)  The Commissioner’s blog post, in conjunction with the FCC’s recent rulings, may lend additional support to staying ongoing litigation proceedings pending agency action under the primary jurisdiction doctrine, as the Southern District of Texas and the Eastern District of California have already done.  (See our posts covering these decisions here and here.)

Court Stays TCPA Class Action until FCC Rules on Definition of “Called Party”

The Eastern District of California recently granted a motion to stay proceedings under the primary jurisdiction doctrine in Matlock v. United Healthcare Servs., Inc., No. 13-2206, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37612 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 20, 2014). It stayed the proceedings until the FCC rules on United Healthcare’s expedited petition to clarify the definition of “called party” under the TCPA’s prior express consent provision.

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TCPA Petitions Keep Pouring Into the FCC

As previously covered in other TCPA blog posts, the FCC maintains a range of TCPA rules addressing certain key elements of telemarketing and even non-telemarketing call activities that can implicate routine interactions between companies and their customers or prospective customers. The proper scope and interpretation of some of these rules continue to be the subject of newly filed petitions for clarification, declaratory ruling or even requests for outright waiver of certain FCC rules. We highlight here several of the more recent additions to the FCC’s already large compliment of pending TCPA petitions.

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California Federal Court Upholds Pre-Certification Discovery of Defendant’s “Outbound Dial List” in TCPA Class Action

A California federal district court recently ordered a debt collector to produce an “outbound dial list” that identified all telephone numbers it had called using an ATDS over a one-year period. See Webb v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Grp. LLC, No. C. 13-00737 RS, 2014 WL 325132 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 29, 2014). The ruling highlights the potential conflict between the discovery objectives of putative class counsel on the one hand, and the privacy rights of putative class members on the other.

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