Northern District of California Rejects First Amendment Challenge to the TCPA

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A federal judge in the Northern District of California recently denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action accusing Facebook of violating the TCPA by sending text messages reminding users about their friends’ birthdays. In so doing, the court rejected Facebook’s First Amendment challenge and found that the TPCA survived strict scrutiny. Brickman v. Facebook, Inc., No. 16-0751, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11849 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 27, 2017).  Continue reading

There’s a Ketch: Court Reverses Entry of Summary Judgment in Favor of Plaintiffs with Muddled Timeline

A recent appellate opinion out of Oklahoma state court provides an important reminder that putative classes should not include people who did not receive the communication at issue. See Ketch v. Royal Windows, 113986 (Ct. Civ. App. Okla., Nov. 08, 2016).

In Ketch, the plaintiff filed suit after receiving an allegedly unsolicited fax advertisement from the defendant, from which it had previously requested a catalog. The defendant admitted that the fax advertisement did not have any opt-out language and evidently did not seek a retroactive waiver from the FCC. The plaintiff then moved for summary judgment on behalf of itself and a previously certified class. The trial court granted that motion, finding that Royal was liable to the tune of $290,000.00, i.e., $500 for each fax that had been transmitted. Continue reading

Technology for Effective TCPA Defense: What You Need to Know

TCPA Blog contributor Michael Stortz will co-present a LiveVox webinar on “Technology for Effective TCPA Defense: What You Need to Know” on Wednesday, November 30, 2016. This webinar will provide an in-depth look at how to effectively utilize technology as part of a multifaceted TCPA defense strategy. Panelists will discuss best practices for the initial technology assessment; managing the ongoing assessment of technology; and leveraging technology in defending a TCPA claim. The webinar will also examine the technology behind TCPA suits, including how to assess what is—and is not—an automatic telephone dialing system, and how courts are responding to the use of technology.

Registration for the webinar can be found at the LiveVox website.

TCPA Blog Nominated As A Best Legal Blog of 2016

For more than three years, our team has been providing you with breaking news and important information about litigation and regulation under the TCPA. We hope that you have enjoyed reading our blog as much as we have enjoyed writing it. If you have, we invite you to consider supporting our blog by voting for it in this year’s Best Legal Blog Contest.  To do so, please click here and cast your vote. Thank you for your support!

Court Dismisses TCPA Suit for Failure to Adequately Allege Seller’s Vicarious Liability

The Northern District of Ohio recently dismissed a TCPA action because the plaintiff failed to allege any facts from which the court could conclude that the defendant was directly or vicariously liable for the alleged calls. See Seri v. CrossCountry Mortgage, Inc., No. 16-01214, 2016 WL 5405257 (N.D. Ohio Sept. 28, 2016).

In Seri, the plaintiff alleged that defendant Direct Source – a telemarketing vendor – made at least twenty unsolicited telemarketing calls to the plaintiff’s cellular telephone using an ATDS.  He further alleged that defendant CrossCountry Mortgage, Inc. (“CrossCountry”) regularly had third-party telemarketers make telemarketing calls on its behalf and had an “extensive relationship” with Direct Source. Continue reading

Reconsidering The Traceability Element of Constitutional Standing

In TCPA Blog’s latest column for Law360, Michael Daly, Justin Kay and Victoria Andrews addressed the issue of an alleged injury’s traceability to an alleged TCPA violation, which was recently highlighted in Romero v. Dep’t Stores Nat’l Bank and Ewing v. SQM US Inc. The United States District Court of the Southern District of California dismissed both cases based on a lack of constitutional standing because the alleged injuries could not be specifically traced back to the use of an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (“ATDS”). The decisions explained that, if the alleged injury would have been the same had the calls been dialed manually, then it could not be traced to use of an ATDS:

The court reasoned that “Mr. Ewing would have been no better off had Defendants dialed his number manually” since “[h]e would have had to expend the same amount of time answering and addressing Defendants’ manually dialed telephone call and would have incurred the same amount of battery depletion,” and cited McNamara v. City of Chicago, 138 F.3d 1219, 1221 (7th Cir. 1998) for the proposition that “‘[a] plaintiff who would have been no better off had the defendant refrained from the unlawful acts of which the plaintiff is complaining does not have standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge those acts in a suit in federal court.’” Id. at 5:4-12. Because the plaintiff “did not suffer an injury in fact traceable to Defendants’ violation of the TCPA,” he lacked “standing to make a claim for the TCPA violation here.” Id. at 4:14-16.

The column examines the Romero and Ewing decisions and explores whether other courts will accept this defense in future TCPA cases.

Read “Reconsidering ‘Traceability’ Element of TCPA Standing.”

TCPA Class Actions Panel

TCPA Blog contributor Meredith Slawe took part in the “TCPA Class Actions Panel” at the PACE 2016 TCPA Washington Summit on September 19. This conference attracted in-house lawyers and compliance professionals from an array of companies. PACE is one of the entities leading the appeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s) July 2015 TCPA Order in the D.C. Circuit.

The panel, which also included prominent TCPA defense lawyers from Perkins Coie, Manatt Phelps and Greenspoon Marder and an experienced plaintiff’s class action lawyer from Edelson PC, addressed the state of TCPA-related class action litigation and where these cases are likely going in light of recent court rulings and guidance from the FCC. The discussion was particularly lively in light of the presence of attorneys on both sides of these cases.

Meredith highlighted the need for defendants in these actions to be aggressive and to dig into the facts of these cases early on. She explained that TCPA plaintiffs’ lawyers all too often fail to do the requisite pre-suit investigation of claims and that a close look at the purported facts often dooms the claims at the outset.

3 Factors to Weigh in Deciding To Fight Or Fold TCPA Suits

TCPA Blog’s Michael Daly and Meredith Slawe were recently quoted in the Law360 article, “3 Factors to Weigh in Deciding to Fight or Fold TCPA Suits.” They explained that “[t]he best approach to defending TCPA cases is to master the facts of each case as early as possible and map out multiple paths to victory. Oftentimes, the smallest details can mean the difference between whether or not a call qualifies as ‘telemarketing’ or a consumer provided ‘consent’ or equipment qualifies as an ‘automatic telephone dialing system.’” The remainder of the article examines other factors from both plaintiffs’ and defendants’ perspectives.

Read “3 Factors to Weigh in Deciding to Fight or Fold TCPA Suits.”

Court Finds That Equipment That Initiates Calls With Electronic Point and Click System Is Not An ATDS

In Pozo v. Stellar Recovery Collection Agency, Inc., No. 15-0929 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 2, 2016), the Middle District of Florida recently entered summary judgment against the plaintiff because it determined that an ATDS had not been used to call her.

The defendant in Pozo used a web-based dialing program called Human Call Initiator (“HCI”) to initiate the calls. HCI uses a “point-and-click” process that allows calls to be initiated by human “clicker agents.” Specifically, the program will not initiate a call until a clicker agent manually confirms in a dialogue box that the call should be made to that particular number. If a call is answered, the clicker agent then refers the call to a “closer agent” who speaks with the debtor. The program also allows clicker agents to view the availability of closer agents and will not initiate a call unless a closer agent is available. Continue reading

Can 1 Call Or Text Cause Injury Under TCPA?

In TCPA Blog’s latest Law360 column, Mike Daly, Justin Kay, and Victoria Andrews examine the differences in courts’ decisions regarding whether the receipt of a single call or text can be considered concrete harm for the purposes of constitutional standing in TCPA actions. The article first discusses state law claims that are routinely dismissed for lack of sufficient injury because the plaintiff alleged receipt of only one fax or text.  It then reviews recent TCPA claims that have been dismissed based upon similar reasoning, and compares them against those that have found that any alleged violation of the statute establishes sufficient injury to confer constitutional standing.  In doing so, the article addresses why the second line of cases employs faulty reasoning and fails to adhere to Congress’ intent and goals in enacting the TCPA: Continue reading