The Northern District of Illinois recently granted a TCPA defendant’s motion to strike class action allegations, reasoning that individual questions of consent and the availability of the established business relationship (“EBR”) defense made the claims unsuitable for class treatment. The case is Sorsby v. TruGreen L.P., 2023 WL 130505 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 9, 2023).
The plaintiff alleged that, after cancelling her TruGreen lawn-care service and telling TruGreen not to call her, she received numerous calls from TruGreen to a number that was on the National Do-Not-Call Registry and should have been on TruGreen’s internal Do-Not-Call list. TruGreen moved to strike the class allegations, arguing that plaintiff could not satisfy Rule 23’s requirements of typicality, commonality, and predominance. The court agreed and struck the class allegations.
The court explained that the TCPA does not prohibit solicitations to customers with whom a business has an EBR. Although the named plaintiff claimed to have terminated her own EBR, the availability of the EBR defense as to other class members was inherently individualized and not capable of being determined on a classwide basis.
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Two recent District Court opinions highlight an ongoing dispute as to whether the TCPA and its implementing regulations should apply to mobile (cellular) phones and text messages received thereon, as opposed to the more limited application of only traditional residential landlines.
The District Court for the Western District of Missouri recently denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss a TCPA claim, holding, among other things, that 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(d) broadly applies to text messages just as it applies to telephone calls. Eagle v. GVG Capital, LLC, No. 22-cv-00638-SRB, 2023 WL 1415615 (W.D. Mo. Jan. 31, 2023). 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(d) protects consumers from receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls, stating that no person or entity may make such calls to a residential telephone subscriber unless procedures are put in place to maintain a list of those who request not to be contacted that meet a set of minimum standards. See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(d).
In Eagle, the plaintiff sued Defendant GVG Capital, LLC, a marketing and lead generation company, on behalf of herself and three classes alleging multiple TCPA violations, including the delivery of solicitation text messages to the class despite their telephone numbers being on the National Do Not Call Registry (NDNCR) and alleging that those text messages did not include the sending defendant’s contact information. The plaintiff alleged that she uses her cellphone as her residential telephone number and had it registered with the NDNCR in 2012. In 2022, she began receiving text messages from a series of numbers asking if she was interested in selling her home and directing her to a real estate website, and plaintiff alleged that these messages did not contain the required contact information and disclosures prescribed by the TCPA.
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