Hobbs Act Issues Abound in TCPA Cases, Some Drawing FCC Reaction

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Appropriate application of the Administrative Orders Review Act (aka the Hobbs Act) can become a contentious issue in some TCPA cases, and in this post we highlight a few recent examples. The Hobbs Act provides exclusive jurisdiction to the federal court of appeals to determine the validity of all final orders of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and also specifies that any party aggrieved by a final order of an agency such as the FCC may file a petition to review the order in the court of appeals with appropriate venue within 60 days after its entry. Thus, while plaintiffs in TCPA cases may allege that aspects of the TCPA laws or FCC rules have been violated, they are not free to collaterally attack the substance of FCC rules that they have not timely challenged. The FCC is understandably concerned when plaintiffs mount an indirect challenge of the agency’s rules, in some cases so much so that the agency participates in a court proceeding.

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FCC Opportunities for TCPA Rule Revision or Interpretation

The FCC’s far-reaching revisions to its prior TCPA rules took effect on October 16, 2013, without the FCC ruling on a number of pending petitions for clarification or declaratory ruling.  Immediately upon the federal government’s reopening, two additional petitions were filed.  While each presents unique facts and circumstances, each has in common a plea that the agency clarify just how extensive the job will be for telemarketers to seek and receive adequate forms of consumer consent to be contacted.

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