The last two weeks have brought two important (although unrelated) rulings on the TCPA’s Autodialer Restrictions. First, on June 25, the Federal Communications Commission limited the applicability of the autodialer restrictions in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 (the “TCPA”), to an emerging texting technology. Second, less than two weeks later, the Supreme Court ruled that an exception to the TCPA’s autodialer restrictions for calls to collect federal debts was unconstitutional and expanded the statute’s reach.
Creating a circuit split, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has held that receiving a single unwanted text message is not enough to confer standing, even if the text violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The court disagreed with a Ninth Circuit ruling that reached the opposite conclusion in 2017. In so doing, it gave new life to an argument defendants may use to fend off class actions under the TCPA.
An already active TCPA class action bar is sure to become even more active after a significant Declaratory Ruling and Order from the FCC that, among other points, broadened what technologies may be considered autodialers, gave further strength to class actions based on reassigned cell numbers, and muddied the waters for constructing compliance mechanisms to support consumer revocation of consent.
On July 10, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission issued a declaratory ruling to resolve various concerns raised by 21 petitions regarding the Commission’s implementation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which carries a $500 penalty for each call or text in violation.