As we head into 2019, there are plenty of reasons for optimism in the TCPA defense bar. Courts nationwide have continued to interpret the ACA v. FCC ruling favorably to defendants at both the motion to dismiss and summary judgment stages, and there have been other positive TCPA decisions during the past month as well. But unfortunately, it is not all good news. At least three courts have certified TCPA class actions in the past month. Although the facts of each case are obviously critical to assessing the propriety of class certification, we always prefer to see class certification denied in these sorts of cases. Below are the most notable cases for this review period. The decisions are listed by issue category in alphabetical order. Continue Reading TCPA Case Law Review (Vol. 7)
As 2018 comes to a close, there is no sign that the development of TCPA case law will be slowing any time soon. Since our last report in October, we have reviewed at least 75 new decisions discussing the TCPA in one way or another. Some cases, like Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc. v. PDR Network, LLC (which we discussed last week), make bigger news than others. But it’s important to keep tabs on the full TCPA litigation landscape to understand what patterns are emerging and what arguments are winning. Below are the most notable cases for this review period. The decisions are listed by issue category in alphabetical order. Continue Reading TCPA Case Law Review (Vol. 6)
As we speed past Thanksgiving and enter the holiday season, kids shouldn’t be the only ones putting together their wish lists. Here are some things that might not fit under a tree, but would certainly fill us with the joy of the season.
Since our last TCPA update at the end of August, the biggest news has obviously been the Marks v. Crunch case – you can read our thoughts on that case here. But that was not the only meaningful case decided in the last month or so. Decisions continue to roll in on critical issues such as class certification, the definition of an ATDS, and the viability of negotiated settlements. Below are the most notable cases for this review period. The decisions are listed by issue category in alphabetical order.
Ever since the D.C. Circuit’s ruling six months ago in ACA Int’l v. FCC, 885 F.3d 687 (D.C. Cir. 2018), which invalidated the FCC’s interpretation of an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (“ATDS”), a consensus had been growing. Led by the Third Circuit in Dominguez v. Yahoo, Inc., 894 F.3d 116 (3d Cir. 2018), many courts nationwide have found that the ACA opinion invalidates all of the FCC’s previous ATDS definitions and stands for the proposition that an ATDS is a system that uses a random or sequential number generator. But because things can never be that easy in the TCPA space, the Ninth Circuit created a circuit split last week with its decision in Marks v. Crunch San Diego, LLC, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 26883 (9th Cir. Sept. 20, 2018).
If you have seen members of the TCPA plaintiffs’ bar sweating a bit more than usual lately, it’s not just the summer heat—they’re probably concerned about the steady stream of positive cases for the defense bar over the past month. Since our last update, a considerable number of new TCPA decisions have come out, including several circuit level decisions. And while not every case discussed in this edition of the TCPA Case Law Review went the way of the defendants, a clear tendency this summer is for courts to rule against TCPA class action plaintiffs. Let’s hope this is one trend that continues after Labor Day.
On August 9, 2018, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama agreed with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Reyes v. Lincoln Auto. Fin. Servs., 861 F.3d (2d Cir. 2017), which held that contractual consent to be contacted by an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) could not (and cannot) be unilaterally revoked because the consent formed part of a bargained-for exchange in the contract. The Second Circuit’s ruling was favorable for companies seeking clarification on consent revocation issues that exist with respect to claims brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).
Overview of the Ruling
On March 16, 2018, just before tip-off in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the D.C. Circuit provided the TCPA defense bar with a new playbook of sorts, in the form of a decision that will surely change the game for TCPA litigation. The case, of course, is ACA International v. FCC, and the ruling came down nearly 18 months after oral arguments. ACA Int’l et al. v. FCC, No. 15-1211, Doc. No. 1722606 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 16, 2018). It appears to be worth the wait as the D.C. Circuit slam dunked the former definition of automated telephone dialing equipment (“ATDS”) and the “one-call safe harbor” rule for reassigned numbers.
If you follow developments in TCPA case law, you’ve probably heard by now that the DC Circuit Court of Appeals last week overturned the 2015 FCC Order that had required TCPA opt-out notices on both solicited and unsolicited faxes. The court held that the FCC’s rule was “unlawful to the extent that it requires opt-out notices on solicited faxes.” See Bais Yaakov of Spring Valley v. FCC, et al., Case No. 14-1234 (D.C. Cir.). In fact, the DC Circuit—despite years of FCC guidance, 13 consolidated appeals and more than two dozen lawyers participating in the briefing—seemed to view this as a relatively simple issue of statutory construction: “The text of the Act provides a clear answer to the question presented in this case. . . . Congress drew a line in the text of the statute between unsolicited fax advertisements and solicited fax advertisements. Unsolicited fax advertisements must include an opt-out notice. But the Act does not require (or give the FCC authority to require) opt-out notices on solicited fax advertisements. It is the Judiciary’s job to respect the line drawn by Congress, not to redraw it as we might think best.” Continue Reading DC Circuit Opts Out of Flawed FCC Ruling