Archive: May 11, 2016

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Eighth Circuit Articulates New Ascertainability Standard in TCPA Class Actions

Eighth Circuit Articulates New Ascertainability Standard in TCPA Class Actions

By Joseph C. Wylie II, Molly K. McGinley, Nicole C. Mueller, Courtney E. Torres

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed a trial court’s decision not to certify a TCPA class on grounds that the proposed class was not ascertainable. In so doing, the Eighth Circuit declined to adopt the Third Circuit’s heightened standard for ascertainability as a “separate, preliminary requirement” for class certification.  In the published opinion, the Court articulated its own “rigorous analysis of Rule 23 requirements, which includes that a class ‘must be adequately defined and clearly ascertainable.’”

In Sandusky Wellness Center, LLC v. Medtox Scientific, Inc., Plaintiff alleged that MedTox, a toxicology lab, transmitted a single-page fax to approximately 3,000 fax numbers, all recorded onto a log in the plaintiff’s possession.  Plaintiff moved to certify a class that included all people in the four years prior to the action’s filing who received a fax message from Medtox regarding lead testing services that did not display a proper opt-out notice.  The district court, in denying class certification, held the plaintiff failed to show ascertainability because it could not establish who was included in the class.  The trial court focused on the potential for multiple claimants with respect to individual faxes, noting that the class could be seen as including both the subscriber of the telephone line on which the fax was received, and the intended recipient of the fax.

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