Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.
On May 3, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association, and over a dozen more trade associations petitioned the FCC seeking a declaratory ruling on the definition of an “automatic telephone dialing system” (autodialer) under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The petition results from the recent D.C. Circuit decision (covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert), which struck down the FCC’s 2015 definition of an autodialer as “unreasonably expansive” because it failed to adequately describe what functions qualify a device as an autodialer. The petition seeks clarity on the definition of an autodialer that is subject to Section 227(b) of the TCPA, and specifically requests the FCC state that in order to be considered an autodialer, the equipment must “store or produce numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator, and dial such numbers.” Additionally, the petition requests that only calls made using the actual autodialer capabilities be subject to the restrictions of the TCPA. The petitioners argue that adopting the requested definition would “ensure that legitimate businesses can contact their consumers without fearing a lawsuit under Section 227(b) of the TCPA.”
On March 16, the D.C. Circuit issued its much anticipated ruling in ACA International v. FCC. The D.C. Circuit’s ruling significantly narrows a Federal Communication Commission order from 2015, which, among other things, had broadly defined an “autodialer” for purposes of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
* * *
Click here to read the full special alert.
If you have questions about the ruling or other related issues, please visit our Class Actions practice page, or contact a Buckley Sandler attorney with whom you have worked in the past.
On February 20, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a national insurance company’s motion to dismiss a proposed Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action suit brought by a California-based plumbing company. The plaintiff had sued the insurance company and one of its agents for using an autodialer to make prerecorderd sales calls. One call was answered by the plaintiff’s principal and interrupted business, which Plaintiff alleges violated the TCPA. The plaintiff also alleges that the autodialed calls “seized and trespassed upon the use of its cell phones.” In its motion to dismiss, the insurance company argued, among other things, that the plaintiff failed to allege a concrete injury, which is required to establish standing. Citing the Supreme Court ruling in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, the judge held that the plaintiff had alleged sufficient facts, including the disruption to its business, to establish a concrete harm.
On November 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) does not preempt an Indiana statute that bans most robocalls without exempting calls that are not made for a commercial purpose. Patriotic Veterans, Inc. v. State of Indiana, No. 11-3265, 2013 WL 6114836 (7th Cir. Nov. 21, 2013). A not-for-profit Illinois corporation seeking to use automatically dialed interstate phone calls to deliver political messages to Indiana residents sought a declaration that the Indiana Automated Dialing Machine Statute (IADMS) violates the First Amendment, at least as it applies to political messages, and also is preempted by the TCPA, which expressly exempts non-commercial calls such as political calls from the TCPA’s regulation of autodialers. Overturning the district court’s decision, the Seventh Circuit found that the Indiana statute is not expressly preempted by the TCPA because the plain language of the TCPA’s savings clause states that the federal law does not preempt any state law that prohibits the use of automatic telephone dialing systems and, even if the IADMS is considered a regulation of, rather than a prohibition on, the use of autodialers, the savings clause does not at all address state laws that impose interstate regulations on their use. The court further found that the IADMS is not impliedly preempted by the TCPA because it is possible to comply with the state statute without violating the TCPA, the state statute furthers the TCPA’s purpose of protecting the privacy interests of residential telephone subscribers, and Congress did not intend to create field preemption when it enacted the TCPA. The court, however, remanded the case to the district court to consider whether the statute violates the First Amendment.
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "The international compliance situation and new challenges" at the World Compliance Association Covid Compliance Conference
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss "Understanding OFAC sanctions" at a NAFCU webinar
- Garylene D. Javier to discuss "Navigating workplace culture in 2020" at the DC Bar Conference