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Judge Grants Motion to Reconsider TCPA Summary Judgment, Dismisses Suit

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a motion for reconsideration and dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Yahoo! violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by using an automatic telephone dialing system to send text messages to an individual, thanks to the ruling in ACA International v. FCC.

When he made his initial ruling denying a motion for summary judgment, Judge Manish Shah was bound to follow rulings from the FCC issued in 2003, 2008, and 2012 that determined an ATDS was any system that “dialed numbers pulled from a stored list without human intervention.” But the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruling in ACA v. FCC tossed out those previous rulings, which allowed the judge to grant the motion for reconsideration.

The plaintiff had sued because the service used by the defendant pulled “her number from a database of stored numbers—an address book—and then automatically sen[t] that number a text message,” which was a violation of the TCPA.

The ruling in ACA v. FCC “wiped the slate clean,” Judge Shah wrote

“At the time, I didn’t agree with the FCC’s reading of the statute, but I was bound by it,” Judge Shah wrote. “Some courts think the statutory language is ambiguous enough to include a device that dials numbers from a stored list (without random or sequential number generation). But I read the statute differently, and it is not ambiguous. The phrase “using a random or sequential number generator” applies to the numbers to be called and an ATDS must either store or produce those numbers (and then dial them). Curated lists developed without random or sequential number generation capacity fall outside the statute’s scope.”

A copy of the ruling in Johnson v. Yahoo! is available by clicking here.

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