FCC Issues Report and Order Implementing 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act Exemption for Calls Made to Collect on Federally-Owned or -Guaranteed Debt


On August 11, 2016, the FCC released a Report and Order implementing Section 301 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (the “Budget Act”), which exempts autodialed and prerecorded calls “made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States” from the TCPA’s prior express consent requirement. The Budget Act provision also authorizes the FCC to adopt rules to “restrict or limit the number and duration” of any wireless calls made to collect debts owed to or guaranteed by the federal government. Continue reading

Freedom of Contract Appears Alive and Well in the Third Circuit

Two federal courts in the Third Circuit recently compelled individual arbitration in TCPA actions. See Raynor v. Verizon Wireless, No. 15-5914, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54678 (D.N.J. Apr. 25, 2016); Herndon v. Green Tree Serv. LLC, No. 15-1202, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53937 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 22, 2016). Issued just a few days apart in cases against a telecommunications provider and a mortgage broker, these decisions serve as a helpful reminder to businesses to consider including arbitration clauses in their consumer contracts—and to explore their applicability when facing TCPA litigation. Continue reading

Plaintiff’s Counsel Concedes Applicability of Arbitration Provision to TCPA Suit

The Eastern District of North Carolina recently granted a motion compelling arbitration in a TCPA case involving debt-collection calls allegedly made to plaintiff’s cellular telephone. See Rice v. Credit One Fin., No. 5:15-130, 2015 WL 4528933 (E.D.N.C. July 27, 2015). As previously covered here, here, and here, district courts around the country have demonstrated a willingness to order arbitration when TCPA claims fall within the scope of an arbitration agreement.

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Fail-Safe Class Fails in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

In Zarichny v. Complete Payment Recovery Servs., Civ. No. 14-3197, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6556 (Jan. 21, 2015), Plaintiff Sandra Zarichny attempted to bring a class action on behalf of two classes against defendants Fidelity National Information Services (“FIS”) and Complete Payment Recovery Services (“CPRS”). Id. at *1-2. Zarichny alleges that the defendants called her eleven times because they incorrectly believed that she owed a debt based on her alleged failure to return textbooks that she rented. Id. at 7-8. In her complaint, Zarichny alleged that the Defendants deliberately harassed her by calling at inconvenient times. Id. at 9. Zarichny alleged that both corporations violated the TCPA and the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (the “FDCPA”).

Fidelity and CPRS brought a motion to dismiss Zarichny’s complaint and a motion to strike her class allegations, which the court granted in part and denied in part.

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You Still Can’t Violate the FDCPA by Complying With It…

In Gomez v. Oxford Law, 3:14-cv-00477, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 345, * 3 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 5, 2014), Ninouska Gomez filed suit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the “FDCPA”) after receiving a message from Oxford Law, which used an autodialer to leave the message. In their statement of undisputed facts, Gomez and Oxford Law agree that Gomez heard the following message: “… please hang up or disconnect. If you are Gomez, Vinouish please continue to listen to this message. There will now be a three second pause in this message.” The message was designed to comply with 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(b), the portion of the FDCPA that prohibits debt collectors from revealing information about a debtor to third parties.

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Somewhere Out There, a Certain Gecko Lets Out a Sigh of Relief

Judge Kathleen M. Williams of the Southern District of Florida handed GEICO a decisive victory on September 29, 2014, when she denied a renewed motion to certify a class of individuals who purportedly received robo-calls from GEICO because she found that the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient proof of numerosity.

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Eleventh Circuit Holds That Debt Collector Had “Prior Express Consent” From Debtor Whose Wife Provided Number on Hospital Admission Form

This week the Eleventh Circuit held that a debt collector had “prior express consent” from a debtor whose wife had provided his wireless number on a hospital admission form. Mais v. Gulf Coast Collection Bureau, Inc., No. 13-14008, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 18554 (11th Cir. Sept. 29, 2014). In doing so, it reversed an outlier decision from the Southern District of Florida, adopted arguments that the FCC had made in an amicus brief late last year, and provided persuasive precedent on the “prior express consent” exception.

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Capital One Agrees to $75 Million TCPA Settlement

Capital One and three collections agencies recently announced the largest proposed cash settlement in TCPA history – $75.5 million. This is more than double the amount of the prior record – a $32 million settlement from Bank of America.

The plaintiffs allege that Capital One and the other defendants used an ATDS to place debt collection calls to 21 million cell phone numbers without the requisite consent. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Capital One will contribute $73 million to the settlement fund, while AllianceOne Receivables Management Inc., Leading Edge Recovery Solutions, LLC and Capital Management Services, L.P. will contribute $1.4 million, $996,205 and $24,220, respectively. The settlement agreement estimates that claimants will receive at least $20-$40 and allocates up to 30% of the settlement fund for an award of attorneys’ fees and costs in an amount to be set by the court. The settlement fund is non-reversionary. Capital One also agreed to take steps to ensure TCPA compliance going forward though it expressly disclaimed any liability in connection with the settlement.

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Court Lets Debt-Collector Amend Answer and Assert Counterclaim for Plaintiff’s Debt

In a TCPA class action case concerning debt collection calls, the Southern District of California recently granted a debt-collector defendant’s motion to file an amended answer and assert a counterclaim for breach of contract arising from the plaintiff’s approximately $22,000 debt for the purchase of a used vehicle. See Horton v. Calvary Portfolio Servs., LLC, No. 13-cv-0307, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102569 (S.D. Cal. July 24, 2014).

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