The District of New Jersey recently endorsed the view that calls regarding the availability of free services may plausibly qualify, at the pleadings stage, as “telephone solicitations,” and as such be subject to the Do Not Call prohibition, where the calls are part of a larger marketing program for the defendant’s services. It also held, as the FCC has ruled, that the FCC’s exemption for calls that deliver a “health care message,” from a HIPAA-covered entity or its business associates, treats the calls differently based on whether the calls are delivered to a cell phone or a residential landline. Calls from such entities about health care, when made to wireless numbers, are exempt only from the requirement for written consent that applies to telemarketing calls. Unlike health care calls to residential landlines, these calls are not exempt from the TCPA’s general “prior express consent” requirement for prerecorded and autodialed phone calls, the court held.
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit applied the Supreme Court’s recent Ford Motor decision on personal jurisdiction to a Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss a TCPA claim.
In Hood v. American Auto Care, LLC, the plaintiff, Alexander Hood, alleged that the defendant (American Auto Care or “AAC,” a Florida company) violated the TCPA by directing automated calls to Mr. Hood’s cell phone without his consent. No. 20-1157, 2021 WL 6122400, at *1 (10th Cir. Dec. 28, 2021). According to the complaint, the calls were part of a sweeping telemarketing campaign by AAC that involved calling people from various states, including Vermont and Colorado, to advertise extended vehicle warranties sold by AAC. Id. Mr. Hood had previously lived in Vermont and had a Vermont cell phone number, but was living in Colorado at the time he received the calls. Id. The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado granted AAC’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, finding that the calls to Mr. Hood’s Vermont cell phone number did not “arise out of or relate to” calls that AAC directed at forum residents. Id.
The Western District of New York in Clark v. Buffalo City School District, Case No. 1:21cv00700, 2021 WL5764703 (W.D.N.Y. Oct. 28, 2021) recently granted a motion to dismiss because the defendant (a school district) was not a “person” within the meaning of the TCPA and could not be liable under the Act. As we previously explained here, this decision creates a significant obstacle for plaintiffs who wish to go after school districts and other government actors for alleged TCPA violations.
Plaintiff alleged that Buffalo City School District violated the TCPA when it called and left voicemails on his cell phone. Buffalo City School District moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint arguing, among other things, that it was not a “person” within the meaning of the TCPA and could not be liable under the Act. The Court agreed (without reaching the school district’s other arguments).