9th Circuit upholds TCPA liability for reassigned number
On June 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court’s judgment in a TCPA action against a bank, concluding that consent from the person intended to call does not exempt the bank from liability under the TCPA. According to the opinion, the bank’s vendors made over 180 automated calls to a child’s cell phone in attempt to collect past-due payments from a customer who used to have the same cell phone number, which had since been reassigned to the child’s mother. The customer of the bank had given consent to be called, but the mother and child had not. After a three-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on the TCPA claim, concluding that the bank could not escape liability under the TCPA because the customer it intended to call had given consent, and awarding $500 in statutory damages for each of the 189 unwanted calls, for a total of $94,500.
On appeal, the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment after the jury trial. The appellate court noted it was “agreeing with other circuits,” on liability when it concluded that the district court “properly instructed the jury that consent from the intended recipient of the call was not sufficient.” Moreover, the appellate court held that the district court properly instructed the jury on the definition of “automatic telephone dialing system,” based on the panel’s decision in Marks v. Crunch San Diego, LLC (covered by InfoBytes here). Lastly, the appellate court also issued an opinion affirming the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees to the plaintiff.