Second Circuit Doubles Down On Decision Prohibiting Unilateral Revocation of Consent From Bilateral Contract

We reported in June on a Second Circuit decision holding that a consumer cannot unilaterally revoke consent that she provided in a bilateral contract. “It is black letter law,” the court explained, “that one party may not alter a bilateral contract by revoking a term without the consent of a counterparty,” and that “consent to another’s actions can ‘become irrevocable’ when it is provided in a legally binding agreement.” As a result, the TCPA “does not permit a consumer to revoke his consent to be called when that consent forms part of a bargained-for exchange.”

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District Court Finds Text Message With Link To Sender’s App Might Qualify As Advertising

As businesses increasingly elect to use text messaging to communicate with consumers, they should be mindful that text messages are a frequent target of TCPA claims. FCC regulations require different degrees of consent depending on whether communications are commercial or informational; whereas businesses must have only “prior express consent” for purely informational texts, they must have “prior express written consent” for texts that include an advertisement or constitute telemarketing. (Certain other texts, for example those sent for an emergency purpose, are exempt from those requirements.) That begs the question: what qualifies as advertising or telemarketing such that the higher degree of consent is required? Continue reading   »

Third Circuit Reverses Denial of Class Certification, Remands for Development of Record Regarding Ascertainability

The Third Circuit recently vacated a trial court’s decision that members of a putative class were not readily ascertainable by reference to objective criteria. City Select Auto Sales Inc. v. BMW Bank of North America Inc., 867 F.3d 434 (3d Cir. 2017). Although it did not find that a class was in fact ascertainable, it held that the trial court misapplied the ascertainability standard and remanded for further proceedings. Id. at 443. Continue reading   »

Court Compels Arbitration of TCPA Claims Due to Broad Arbitration Agreement with Survival Clause

A recent decision from the Northern District of Ohio highlights the importance of having a carefully drafted arbitration agreement in callers’ customer-facing contracts. See Treinish v. BorrowersFirst, Inc., No. 17-1371, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145772 (N.D. Ohio Sept. 8, 2017).

The Plaintiff in Treinish had borrowed money from the Defendant. Id. at *1. Their contract contained two notable provisions: a provision that agreed to resolve disputes in arbitration and a provision that consented to receive automated calls from the Defendant and related entities on her cellphone. Id. at *1-2. Continue reading   »

FCC Issues Public Notice Regarding Requested TCPA Exemptions for Credit Unions

On October 6, 2017, the FCC issued a Public Notice that seeks comment on a Petition that was recently filed by the Credit Union National Association. Specifically, the Public Notice seeks comment on whether it should “adopt an established business relationship exemption from the [TCPA’s] prior-express-consent requirement for informational autodialed or artificial- or prerecorded-voice calls (including text messages) made by or on behalf of credit unions to their members’ wireless phone numbers,” or, alternatively, whether it should “exercise its statutory authority to exempt from the TCPA’s prior-express-consent requirement credit union informational calls made to its members’ wireless phone numbers that are in fact free to the called party.” Continue reading   »

U.S. Senate Votes for More Pai

On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, the Senate confirmed Chairman Ajit Pai to a second term at the FCC, enabling him to potentially stay on as chairman until the end of 2021. Originally appointed by President Obama in 2012, Chairman Pai was a member of the Republican minority on the Commission until early 2017, when former Chairman Tom Wheeler resigned and President Trump elevated Pai to the chairmanship. While Pai’s term technically ended in 2016, FCC rules allowed him to keep serving until the end of 2017 while the Senate considered his re-nomination. Continue reading   »

The TCPA and Its Implications for Credit Unions

TCPA Blog contributor Michael Stortz and TCPA Blog editor Michael Daly will discuss the TCPA at the Regulatory Compliance Seminar of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU) on October 10, 2017. This discussion will provide an overview of the statute, including recent regulatory developments at the FCC and recent judicial interpretations of the statute’s applicability and requirements. It will also explore the potential risks that credit unions face and best practices for proactively managing them.

For more information about the seminar, please visit the NAFCU website.

Court Reduces Aggregate Award of Statutory Damages Deemed “Obviously Unreasonable and Wholly Disproportionate”

After awarding a judgment as a matter of law at the close of plaintiffs’ case, Judge E. Richard Webber of the Eastern District of Missouri reduced the award because statutory damages of $500 per call would have been “obviously unreasonable and wholly disproportionate to the offense,” making it unconstitutional as applied to the facts of the case. Golan v. Veritas Entm’t, LLC, No. 14-0069, 2017 WL 3923162, at *4 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 7, 2017).
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FCC Seeks Comment on Reassigned Numbers; Dozens of Commenters Answer the Call

On July 13, 2017, the FCC sought comment on how it should address the problem of autodialed or prerecorded calls to “reassigned numbers”—numbers that once were used by an individual from whom the caller obtained consent, but have since been recycled and given to a different individual. Reassigned numbers pose a risk of extensive TCPA liability even for those callers that try hard to do everything right, as there is no perfect system to accurately identify all reassigned numbers at the moment they are reassigned. It is little surprise, then, that dozens of commenters chose to weigh in on the FCC’s proposal to create a database for this purpose.

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Independent Contractor vs. Agent under the TCPA

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals went back to the basics in addressing whether a telemarketing vendor acted as defendant’s authorized agent for purposes of TCPA liability. In Jones v. Royal Admin. Servs., Inc., No. 15-17328, 2017 WL 3401317 (9th Cir. Aug. 9, 2017) (“Jones”), the Ninth Circuit endorsed the time-honored multi-factor test set forth in Restatement (Second) Of Agency, and on that basis affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment. The decision provides further reassurance that traditional agency principles apply in assessing potential TCPA exposure related to calls.

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