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Appeals Court Upholds Decision Restricting Personal Liability in TCPA Case

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has upheld a lower court’s ruling after the owner of a business was found not to be personally liable for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

A copy of the ruling in the case of City Select Auto Sales v. David Randall Associates, Inc., and Raymond Miley, III can be accessed here.

The plaintiff had received four unsolicited fax advertisements from the defendant in 2006. It sued the defendant and its owner and was awarded a judgment of more than $22 million, but the jury also found that the owner should not be held liable.

The plaintiff requested a new trial, arguing that the instructions provided to the jury were prejudicial because the jury was instructed to find the owner liable only if he was deemed to have a “significant” involvement in the alleged misconduct.

In making its ruling, the Third Circuit looked at whether Congress intended for individuals to be held personally liable when it drafted and enacted the TCPA.

The question is not whether Miley was an “author” of unsolicited faxes in the colloquial sense, but whether Congress and the [Federal Communications Commission] intended that we look behind the corporate form and impose personal liability on officers who act on the corporation’s behalf rather than their own.

Because the TCPA does not include any reference to personal-participation liability, which is included in a number of other laws, “the argument that Congressional silence indicates an intent to do so here is a weak one at best,” the Appeals Court ruled.

 

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