Although, as we have previously covered, decisions from various courts have already established that a plaintiff must do more than simply allege that a TCPA defendant used an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) to make calls that allegedly violate the TCPA, two recent decisions help illustrate the level of specificity in pleading required to survive a motion to dismiss. Depending on the District Court, that level does not appear to be exceedingly high.
At the invitation of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the FCC recently filed a letter brief in Palm Beach Golf Center-Boca, Inc. v. Sarris, No. 13-14013 (11th Cir.). The letter brief took the position that defendants can be held directly liable any time their products or services are advertised via a fax that violates the TCPA—even if they did not send the fax or even know that it was going to be sent.
A federal district court in California recently ruled that a consumer who voluntarily provided a cellphone number in order to complete an online purchase gave “prior express consent” to receive a text message from the business’s vendors under the TCPA. See Baird v. Sabre, Inc., No. CV 13-999 SVW, 2014 WL 320205 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 28, 2014).
The Second Circuit recently held that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 governs whether TCPA class actions can proceed in New York federal courts, and concluded that a prior Second Circuit ruling to the contrary no longer was good law. Bank v. Independence Energy Group LLC, No. 13-1746-cv (2d Cir. Dec. 3, 2013).
Previously, in Bonime v. Avaya, Inc., 547 F.3d 497 (2d Cir. 2008), the Second Circuit had held that state procedural rules governed whether a TCPA action could proceed as a class action in federal court, instead of Rule 23. Because N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 901(b) bars class actions seeking statutory damages unless the statute at issue expressly authorizes recovery in a class action (which the TCPA does not), the Bonime court ruled that a TCPA plaintiff could not pursue a class action for statutory damages in New York federal courts. This effectively sounded the death knell for TCPA class actions in New York.