Wisconsin District Court Stays TCPA Suit Pending Review of the FCC’s July 10 Order

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On October 20, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin granted defendant Performant Technologies, Inc.’s (“Performant”) motion to continue a stay pending judicial review of the FCC’s July 10 TCPA order (previously discussed here) “in the interest of judicial economy.” Gensel v. Performant Technologies, Inc., No. 13-C-1196 (E.D. Wis. Oct. 20, 2015).

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A Cell Phone Area Code May Not Be Enough to Establish Personal Jurisdiction

In a recent Southern District of Texas decision, Cantu v. Platinum Mktg. Group, Case No. 1:14-CV-71, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90824 (S.D. Tex. Jul. 13, 2015), plaintiff Hector Cantu brought suit against defendant Platinum Marketing Group LLC d/b/a/ DiabetesHelpNow.com, LLC (“Platinum”) for calls made to his cell phone in violation of the TCPA. In considering Cantu’s motion for entry of default judgment, the court concluded that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

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FCC Warns that Unilateral PayPal User Agreement Changes May Violate the TCPA

In advance of the FCC’s highly anticipated June 18 meeting, during which it is likely to vote on an omnibus order disposing of a wide range of pending petitions for declaratory ruling, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau took an early shot across the bow at a proposed change to  PayPal Inc.’s User Agreement. In an unusual move, the Bureau sent a public letter to PayPal warning it that its new broad “consent to contact” provision may violate the TCPA.

The updates to the User Agreement authorize PayPal to contact a consumer by “autodialed or prerecorded calls and text messages … at any telephone number provided … or otherwise obtained” in order to notify the consumer about his or her account, to troubleshoot problems, or resolve a dispute, collect a debt, poll for opinions, to contact a consumer with promotions, or “as otherwise necessary.” The terms lack an opt-out mechanism for consumers who do not wish to receive these calls. Further, PayPal’s PayPal’s Policy Updates page uses bold and capital letters to make consent to contact a condition of use: “IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THE AMENDED USER AGREEMENT, PRIVACY POLICY OR ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY, YOU MAY CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNT BEFORE JULY 1, 2015 AND YOU WILL NOT BE BOUND BY THE AMENDED TERMS.”

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Eighth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment, Directs Trial Court to Determine Whether Consent Was Revoked

In an unpublished, per curiam decision, the Eighth Circuit recently reversed the entry of summary judgment in favor of a defendant and directed the district court to address whether the plaintiff had revoked his consent to being called on his cell phone. Brenner v. Am. Ed. Servs., No. 14-1340, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 18416 (8th Cir. Sept. 26, 2014).

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FCC Seeks Comment on Petitions Concerning the FCC’s Rule on Opt-Out Notices for Fax Advertisements

On July 25, 2014, the FCC issued a Public Notice seeking comment on five petitions, filed by American Caresource Holdings, Inc. (“ACH”), CARFAX, Inc.(“CARFAX”), UnitedHealth Group, Inc. (“UnitedHealth”), MedLearning, Inc. and Medica, Inc. (“Medica”), and Merck and Company, Inc.(“Merck”) (collectively, the “Petitioners”) requesting a declaratory ruling and/or a waiver of section 64.1200 (a)(4)(iv) of the FCC’s rules. This rule requires certain fax advertisements to include an opt-out notice.1 Comments in response to this Public Notice must be filed by August 8, 2014; reply comments are due August 15, 2014.

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  1. See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200 (a)(4)(iv). []

GroupMe Gets an FCC Green Light on Sending Administrative Texts to Confirm Interest in Joining Social Network Groups

Previous TCPA Blog posts have noted that the FCC has a growing backlog of petitions for rulemaking, expedited declaratory ruling, or petitions for clarification on numerous issues posed by the TCPA. [1] On a recent Friday, the FCC acted on two separate long pending petitions for expedited declaratory ruling.  This post highlights the FCC’s ruling on the petition filed by GroupMe, Inc./Skype Communications S.A.R.L. (“GroupMe”).

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FCC Grants Limited Package Delivery Notification “Prior Express Consent” Exemption

On March 27, 2014, the FCC granted, in part, a petition for expedited declaratory ruling filed by the Cargo Airline Association (“CAA”). (The FCC’s CAA Order can be found here.)  In its petition, the CAA asked the FCC: (1) to clarify that package delivery companies can rely upon representations from senders that the package recipient consents to receiving autodialed and prerecorded calls to a wireless telephone number for purposes of notifications regarding shipment of the package; (2) in the alternative, to declare that package delivery notifications are exempt from the TCPA’s requirement to obtain prior express consent before making autodialed or prerecorded calls to a wireless telephone number.

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

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.)