A much-anticipated TCPA class action trial was set to begin next week in Birchmeier et al. v. Caribbean Cruise Line Inc., et al., in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. According to published reports, however, a class-wide settlement was reached yesterday in this protracted litigation with a history of controversial rulings by the District Court.
Under the terms of the agreement, defendants will pay in the range of $56-$76 million, to settle the claims of class including approximately one million people who received robocalls from defendants in 2011-2012. Class members will reportedly receive $500 for each call received, with the total amount paid to be determined based on how many claims are made.
The case has a long history, including controversial decisions by the District Court to certify the class in 2014, and a decision earlier this year to maintain certification despite the United States Supreme Court’s affirmation in Spokeo v. Robins that a mere statutory violation does not support Article III jurisdiction. The upcoming trial, which had been scheduled to begin on September 12, 2016, appeared to mark one of the few instances in which a TCPA class action would be resolved through trial and potential appeal.
While specific details are yet to arrive, this settlement illustrates the very real risks of TCPA class action litigation given the current uncertainty of the law. While the outcome at settlement is perhaps unique to this litigation, in part due to the District Court’s decisions to this point, further clarity on these key issues arising under the statute remains much needed.
In TCPA Blog’s latest Law360 column, Mike Daly, Meredith Slawe, and Dan Brewer discuss why courts should temporarily stay TCPA cases pending the regulatory appeal of the FCC’s July 10, 2015 Order, which is set for oral argument before the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on October 19, 2016. The article addresses the flaw in plaintiffs’ argument that they are prejudiced while awaiting a decision: Continue reading
Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit scheduled oral argument for October 19, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. in the consolidated appeal from the FCC’s July 10, 2015 Declaratory Ruling and Order (“Order”). As we previously reported, ACA International filed the first petition for review on the same day the Order was issued. That and subsequent appeals were centralized in the D.C. Circuit by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The Joint Petitioners filed their opening brief on November 25, 2015, Rite Aid filed a separate brief the same day that focused on healthcare-related issues, the FCC responded to both briefs on January 15, 2016, and the parties filed final briefs on February 24, 2016. Continue reading
Following up on our March 9 reminder, and just in time for Super Tuesday II, the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau issued an Enforcement Advisory on March 14 titled, “Biennial Reminder for Political Campaigns about Robocall and Text Abuse.” The advisory (similar to past advisories) is a reminder to “political campaigns and calling services that there are clear limits on the use of autodialed calls or texts (known as ‘robocalls’) and prerecorded voice calls.” The advisory summarizes the TCPA’s regulations on (1) calls to cell phones, (2) calls to landlines, (3) identification requirements for prerecorded voice messages, and (4) “line seizure” restrictions. The advisory also includes an “At a Glance” summary of regulations as applied to Political Calls and a series of Frequently Asked Questions with contact information for the Enforcement Bureau for those who have unanswered questions or lingering concerns. Continue reading
With election season under way, it bears repeating that candidates for office are not immune from the restrictions imposed by the TCPA. As the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau explained in an advisory that we discussed previously here, while “[p]olitical prerecorded voice messages or autodialed calls—whether live or prerecorded—to most landline telephones are not prohibited, so long as they adhere to the identification requirements” mandated for all prerecorded messages, the “broad prohibition” on calls to cell phones and other specific types of phone numbers (e.g., health care/emergency lines) “covers prerecorded voice and autodialed political calls, including those sent by nonprofit/political organizations.” Candidates (or their supporters) who are not aware of the TCPA (or confused about the difference between the restrictions on informational calls to cellular phones versus such calls to residential landlines and not aware of the difficulties in managing recycled number issues) risk finding their campaign embroiled in litigation, as evidenced by a new TCPA filing last week. Continue reading
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.
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (J. James D. Whittemore) recently granted LTD Financial Services, L.P.’s motion for partial summary judgment in a TCPA case involving pre-recorded calls allegedly placed to plaintiff’s cellular telephone. See Estrella v. LTD Financial Services, LP, No. 14-2624, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148249 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 2, 2015). As we have previously covered, district courts across the country have demonstrated a willingness to dispose of cases where the records fail to establish that the calls or text messages at issue were sent using an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”).
Drinker Biddle & Reath is a proud sponsor of one of the country’s most highly-anticipated conferences addressing key issues related to the TCPA, including the pending appeal of the FCC’s July 10, 2015 Declaratory Ruling and Order. The PACE TCPA Washington Summit, which runs from September 27-29, 2015, features presentations from FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, FTC Director of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich, and top class action defense lawyers, including our own Seamus Duffy.
More coverage to follow.
TCPA Blog contributors Brad Andreozzi, Seamus Duffy, Laura Phillips and Michael Stortz recently discussed the July 10th Declaratory Ruling and Order in a Q&A with Practical Law that was published on August 13, 2015. The Q&A answered a series of questions about the key holdings of the Declaratory Ruling, implications for companies facing potential exposure under the statute, and strategies for defending putative class actions in light of recent developments from the FCC and anticipated rulings from the United States Supreme Court. Practical Law distributed the Q&A to its subscribers, posted the Q&A on its website, and will include an updated version of the Q&A in the Practical Law Journal this fall.
As we previously noted, three petitions for review were filed in the immediate aftermath of the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling and Order, which were then consolidated and randomly assigned to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. On August 7, 2015, MRS BPO LLC, Cavalry Portfolio Services, LLC, Diversified Consultants, Inc., and Mercantile Adjustment Bureau, LLC filed a joint motion for leave to intervene in the consolidated appeal of the FCC’s July 10, 2015 Declaratory Ruling and Order, or in the alternative, leave to participate as amici curiae in support of petitioner, ACA International.