Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Order on Reconsideration, overturning Commission precedent by clarifying that federal, state, and local government contractors are “persons” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and therefore must, under 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A)-(D), obtain prior written consent to make certain calls using an automatic telephone dialing system or artificial or prerecorded voice; to initiate a call to any residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice; to use a fax machine or other device to send an unsolicited advertisement; or to use an automatic telephone dialing system in such a way that two or more telephone lines of a multi-line business are engaged simultaneously. This ruling is the latest in the Commission’s efforts to protect consumers from unwanted robocalls. The TCPA prohibits certain unsolicited calls made by any “person,” which includes an “individual, partnership, association, joint-stock company, trust, or corporation,” without the prior written consent of the consumer. In 2016, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling stating that the federal government and federal government contractors were not “persons” under the TCPA, and therefore, the limitations on calling enumerated in Section 227(b)(1)(A)-(D) did not apply to them. The FCC reasoned that there is a longstanding presumption that the word “person” does not include the sovereign and that,...
Tagged: Class Action
Lack of Plaintiff Article III Standing Proves Fatal to Eleventh Circuit in FACTA Class Action Settlement
In a 7-to-3 en banc decision, the Eleventh Circuit vacated a high-stakes $6.3 million class settlement on standing grounds. In James Price v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., et al, the court held that a named plaintiff lacked standing to bring a claim under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) on behalf of a proposed settlement class. The plaintiff, Dr. David Muransky, filed a class action complaint against Godiva claiming a violation of FACTA, which prohibits “merchants from printing more than the last five digits of the card number (or the card’s expiration date) on receipts offered to customers.” After visiting a Godiva retail store in Florida, the plaintiff was handed a receipt that contained the first six and the last four digits of his credit card number–a technical violation of FACTA. The plaintiff claimed that the violation was “statutory in nature” and did “not intend to request any recovery for personal injury.” The plaintiff further framed the class’s harm from violations as “irreparable harm as a result of the defendant’s unlawful and wrongful conduct,” and that “Plaintiff and members of the class continue to be exposed to an elevated risk of identity theft.” The putative class was so large that Godiva could have faced statutory damages, punitive damages, and costs of more than $342...
In Lindenbaum v. Realgy, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio dismissed the plaintiff’s “robo-call” class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), based on the Supreme Court’s 2020 holding that a statutory exception for automated calls to collect government debts was unconstitutional. Because the statute was unconstitutional at the time of the alleged violations, the district court determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction and dismissed the lawsuit. Originally enacted in 1991, the TCPA restricts almost all prerecorded sales calls to cell phones. In 2015, Congress amended the provision to allow prerecorded calls “made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.” 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A)(iii). The 2015 provision was struck down in 2020 by the United States Supreme Court’s plurality decision in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, Inc. While the Supreme Court struck down the portion of the statute dealing with calls for government debt, it left the rest intact. In Lindenbaum, the plaintiff brought a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the TCPA. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that she received two prerecorded calls, one to her cellphone and one to her landline, and had not provided express written consent to receive these calls. The plaintiff argued that the severance of the...
With the close of the United States Supreme Court’s 2014-15 term, we offer this wrap up of the Court’s term, focusing on the Court’s most important business and commercial cases (excluding patent cases). Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers Dist. Council Constr. Indus. Pension Fund: It is widely known that if the registration statement an issuer files with the SEC contains an untrue statement of a material fact or omits to state a material fact necessary to make the statements therein not misleading, then a purchaser of securities sold pursuant to the registration statement may sue the issuer for damages.
After much anticipation, on February 24, 2014, the Supreme Court rejected, without comment, Whirlpool Corp.’s and Sears Roebuck & Co.’s bids to challenge class certification in litigations involving allegedly defective washer machines. For a discussion of the history of the “moldy washer” cases, click here and here. In denying the writs of certiorari, the Supreme Court declined to disturb the Sixth and Seventh Circuits’ post-remand orders, concluding that Comcast Corp. v. Behrend had “limited application” to decisions where determinations on liability and damages were bifurcated.
On April 16, 2014, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the National Labor Relations Board’s (the “Board” or “NLRB”) petition for rehearing en banc in D.R. Horton, Inc. v. NLRB, thus upholding its December 3, 2013 decision that arbitration agreements prohibiting class or collective actions claims do not violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).
Eleventh Circuit Becomes Latest Court of Appeals to Enforce Agreement to Arbitrate FLSA Collective Action
On March 21, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit joined a growing number of federal Courts of Appeals to reject arguments that class waivers contained in arbitration agreements should not be enforced in the employment context. In Walthour v. Chipio Windshield Repair LLC, the Eleventh Circuit (which covers Georgia, Florida, and Alabama) upheld a broad arbitration provision which required employees to bring all employment claims in their “individual capacity and not as a plaintiff of class member in a purported class or representative proceeding ….”
On December 3, 2013, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board” or “NLRB”) in D.R. Horton, Inc. and held that D.R. Horton’s arbitration agreement prohibiting class or collective action claims did not violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). In so holding, the court found that the Board did not give proper weight to the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”).
Pleading Setback Stalls N.J. Moldy Washing Machine Class Action, Which Will Face Uncertainty in Light of Comcast
A New Jersey moldy washing machine class action suffered a big pleading setback after the District of New Jersey held that the lengthy complaint still contained insufficient detail to place the defendant on notice of the precise misconduct alleged. But even if plaintiffs replead their case, their ultimate goal of class certification may be stymied in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, and its collateral effect upon other defective washing machine putative class actions.
Third Circuit Denies Federal Antitrust Standing to Hospitals Purchasing Products Through Distributors Despite Contract Between Manufacturer and Hospitals’ Group Purchasing Organization
In In re Hypodermic Products Antitrust Litigation, the Third Circuit once again denied federal antitrust standing to a class of hospitals seeking damages from the manufacturer of hypodermic products because the hospitals paid for and took possession of such products from intermediate distributors and negotiated their final price with the distributors.