Tag: Class Action

1
District Court Dismisses TCPA Complaint Because Plaintiff Failed to Follow Defendant’s Opt-Out Instructions
2
District Court Denies Class Certification in TCPA Case; Finds No Injury Possible Where Call Recipients Consented to Calls, Even if Consent Not in Writing
3
District Court Confirms That Text Messages Completing Consumer-Initiated Transaction Are Not Telemarketing
4
Dish Network to Pay $61.5 Million in Damages After TCPA Trial
5
Rite Aid Wins Summary Judgment in TCPA Class Action for Flu Shot Reminder Calls
6
Proposed Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 Seeks to Curb Attorney Abuses of Class Action Device and Expand Class Action Defendant Protections

District Court Dismisses TCPA Complaint Because Plaintiff Failed to Follow Defendant’s Opt-Out Instructions

By Joseph C. Wylie II, Molly K. McGinley, Lexi D. Bond

Last week a New Jersey federal district court dismissed a putative Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) class action against Kohl’s Department Stores Inc. (“Kohl’s”), Viggiano v. Kohl’s, Case No. 17-0243-BRM-TJB, because plaintiff Amy Viggiano failed to unsubscribe from Kohl’s text messages in the matter in which Kohl’s instructed.

In her putative class action, Viggiano admitted that she had consented to receiving text messages initially, but claimed that she changed her mind and relayed this message to Kohl’s.  Viggiano alleged that she sent multiple messages to Kohl’s expressing that she no longer wanted to receive any messages, including messages like “I don’t want these messages anymore.”  However, she acknowledged that she never texted the word “STOP” to the defendant, a point which was the focus of Kohl’s motion to dismiss.

Kohl’s argued that it provided a direct opt-out mechanism for customer messaging in compliance with FCC requirements.  The terms and conditions to Kohl’s mobile sales alerts instruct customers to respond with one of several words in order to opt-out of future messaging.  The opt-out mechanism is triggered by words like STOP, CANCEL, and UNSUBSCRIBE.  Viggiano did not text any of the single-word commands that Kohl’s instructed would terminate the text alerts, but instead sent several sentence-long messages.  Kohl’s demonstrated that Viggiano received an automated text in reply to her messages which stated “Sorry we don’t understand the request!  Text SAVE to join mobile alerts . . . Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel.”  Even accepting the facts in the complaint as true, the court found that Viggiano did not plausibly allege that she had a reasonable expectation that by sending the messages in question, she effectively communicated a request for revocation.  Further, Viggiano did not allege that Kohl’s had “deliberately design[ed] systems or operations in ways that make it difficult or impossible to effectuate revocations.”  In fact, the court found that the facts in the complaint suggested Viggiano herself adopted a method of opting out that made it difficult or impossible for defendant to honor her request.  In dismissing the case, the court rejected Viggiano’s argument that her messages were “unequivocal written withdrawals of consent.”

This decision follows a case with similar facts from the Central District of California, Epps v. Earth Fare, Inc., No. 16-8221, 2017 WL 1424637, at *6 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 27, 2017), which resulted in dismissal on the same grounds.  Taken together, these cases suggest that where subscribers to text message alerts are provided with clear instructions on how to revoke consent, a plaintiff’s failure to follow those instructions may provide an effective defense to a claim under the TCPA.

 

District Court Denies Class Certification in TCPA Case; Finds No Injury Possible Where Call Recipients Consented to Calls, Even if Consent Not in Writing

By Joseph C. Wylie II,  Andrew C. Glass, Gregory N. Blase, Molly K. McGinley, and Lexi D. Bond

The Northern District of Illinois recently refused to certify a class in a case brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S. Code § 227 (“TCPA”), on the grounds that the class could not include members who lacked Article III standing, and that determining whether individual class members had standing would lead to a multiplicity of mini-trials. See Christopher Legg et al. v. PTZ Insurance Agency LTD, et al., Case No. 14-C-10043. The decision was based in part on the Court’s finding that class members could not have suffered a concrete injury under Spokeo v. Robins (previously discussed here) if they consented to the calls, irrespective of the TCPA’s requirement that “advertising” calls require express written consent.  Thus, the Court granted the defendants’ motion to strike class allegations and denied plaintiffs’ cross-motion to certify a class. Read More

District Court Confirms That Text Messages Completing Consumer-Initiated Transaction Are Not Telemarketing

By Joseph C. Wylie II, Molly K. McGinley, and Lexi D. Bond

A recent decision from the Western District of Washington, Noah Wick v. Twilio Inc., Case No. C16-00914RSL, resulted in dismissal of a putative class action lawsuit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S. Code § 227 (“TCPA”), against Twilio Inc. (“Twilio”), a cloud communications platform service company which allows software developers to programmatically make and receive phone calls and send and receive text messages using its platform. Although several of Twilio’s arguments for dismissal were rejected, the court agreed with Twilio that the plaintiffs’ claims should be dismissed because a text message sent to complete a customer-initiated transaction is not telemarketing and the customer in this instance had given prior express consent to be contacted by providing his mobile number to the sender. Read More

Dish Network to Pay $61.5 Million in Damages After TCPA Trial

By Molly K. McGinley, Joseph C. Wylie II, Lexi D. Bond

This week a federal judge in North Carolina ordered Dish Network LLC (“Dish”) to pay treble damages in the amount of $61.5 million, or $1,200 per call, to class members in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) action against Dish, Krakauer v. Dish Network L.L.C., Case No. 1:14-cv-00333, as a result of marketing efforts made by Dish’s contractor, Satellite Systems Network (“SSN”).  Under the TCPA, treble damages are available in the court’s discretion for violations that occur “willfully or knowingly.” Since the court found that Dish “willfully and knowingly” violated the TCPA, Dish was ordered to pay three times the $20.5 million jury verdict (calculated at a rate of $400 per call) against Dish (previously discussed here).

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Rite Aid Wins Summary Judgment in TCPA Class Action for Flu Shot Reminder Calls

By Joseph C. Wylie II, Molly K. McGinley, Lexi D. Bond

A New York U.S. District Court recently granted summary judgment in favor of defendant Rite Aid Headquarters Corporation in a putative Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) class action, holding that calls reminding customers about the flu vaccine were “health related” and therefore Rite Aid was not required to obtain prior express written consent before making the calls. Though the opinion was filed under seal on March 30, 2017, it was made public last week. Read More

Proposed Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 Seeks to Curb Attorney Abuses of Class Action Device and Expand Class Action Defendant Protections

By Brian M. Forbes, Joseph C. Wylie II, Molly K. McGinley, Jennifer Janeira Nagle, and Matthew N. Lowe                     

On February 9, 2017, Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 (the “Act” or “H.R. 985”).  The Act significantly expands the class action reforms proposed in an earlier version of the bill that stalled after passage in the U.S. House of Representatives and imposes significant new restrictions on class action lawyers and plaintiffs seeking to proceed under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as implementing new rules applicable to cases consolidated through the multidistrict litigation process.  The stated purposes of the Act are to: (1) “assure fair and prompt recoveries for class members and multidistrict litigation plaintiffs with legitimate claims;” (2) “diminish abuses in class action and mass tort litigation that are undermining the integrity of the U.S. legal system;” and (3) “restore the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution by ensuring Federal court consideration of interstate controversies of national importance consistent with diversity jurisdiction principles.” In a press release, Rep. Goodlatte announced that the objective of the proposed legislation is to “keep baseless class action suits away from innocent parties, while still keeping the doors to justice open for parties with real and legitimate claims, and maximizing their recoveries.”

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