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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

11th Circuit reverses class action settlement in TCPA case

Courts TCPA Eleventh Circuit Appellate Class Action


On July 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit vacated and remanded a district court’s approval of a class action certification and settlement agreement in an TCPA action after determining that the plaintiff lacked Article III standing in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez (covered by InfoBytes here). According to the opinion, the plaintiff sued the defendant, alleging it violated the TCPA by calling and texting her “solely to market its services and products through a prohibited automatic telephone dialing system.” After the case was consolidated, and after negotiating with the defendant, the plaintiffs submitted a proposed class settlement agreement that established a settlement fund of $35 million to the 1.26 million settlement class members, who would receive either a $35 cash payment or a $150 voucher for the defendant’s services. The district court had noted Salcedo v. Hanna, in which the 11th Circuit held “that receipt of a single unwanted text message was not a sufficiently concrete injury to give rise to Article III standing,” and that “the proposed class definition included individuals who received only one text message from [the defendant].” The district court determined that “even though some of the included class members would not have a viable claim in the Eleventh Circuit, they do have a viable claim in their respective Circuit [because of a circuit split]. Thus, [the defendant] is entitled to settle those claims in this class action although this Court would find them meritless had they been brought individually in the Eleventh Circuit”

On appeal, the 11th Circuit noted that TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez held that “every class member must have Article III standing in order to recover individual damages.” The appellate court further noted that “TransUnion says that we can’t award damages to plaintiffs who do not have Article III standing. And Article III standing goes to the heart of our jurisdiction to hear cases in the first place.  It further stated that the court “cannot … check [its] Article III requirements at the door of the class action. Any class definition that includes members who would never have standing under our precedent is a class definition that cannot stand.”