As we previously reported, on July 17, 2014, the FCC filed a letter brief in Palm Beach Golf Center-Boca, Inc. v. Sarris, No. 13-14013 (11th Cir.) (“Sarris”), in which it took the position that entities can be held directly liable under the TCPA whenever their products or services are advertised in an unsolicited fax—even if they did not actually send the fax, and even if they did not know the fax was going to be sent. The FCC’s letter brief stood in marked contrast to its decision last year in In re Joint Petition Filed by Dish Network, LLC, 28 F.C.C. Rcd. 6574 (2013) (“Dish Network”), where the FCC had limited direct liability to only “telemarketers” that “initiate” calls, and otherwise applied agency principles to determine whether “sellers” might be vicariously liable for calls made on their behalf. As readers may recall, the FCC’s letter brief does not articulate a policy reason why a “seller” in the voice call context should receive more protection than an entity whose goods and services are promoted through a fax advertisement. But whatever the merits of the letter brief, it has yet to be cited by the Eleventh Circuit (which has heard argument but not yet issued an opinion) or, at least for the past few months, any other court.
At the invitation of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the FCC recently filed a letter brief in Palm Beach Golf Center-Boca, Inc. v. Sarris, No. 13-14013 (11th Cir.). The letter brief took the position that defendants can be held directly liable any time their products or services are advertised via a fax that violates the TCPA—even if they did not send the fax or even know that it was going to be sent.
A federal court recently held that a vendor of a VoIP service that allows callers to circumvent caller identification is not secondarily liable for the alleged TCPA violations of the caller that uses that service. See Clark v. Avatar Techs. PHL, Inc., No. 13-2777 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 28, 2014).
On January 22, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed Dish Network LLC’s petition for review of a 2013 Declaratory Ruling (“Declaratory Ruling”) by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which clarified whether a seller may be held vicariously liable under federal common law principles of agency for violations of Sections 227(b) or 227(c) of the TCPA.
A recently proposed class action settlement agreement illustrates the potential litigation perils when any established business relies on outsourced, undercapitalized marketing agents who lack either the assets or insurance to adequately defend TCPA class action litigation. Indeed, the only proposed recovery for the class is an agreement to provide testimony and documentary evidence of the co-defendant’s actual knowledge of the conduct that violated the TCPA, and its alleged authorization of the subject unlawful text messaging.