Court Relies on Congressional Intent To Grant Summary Judgment in TCPA Case

Eric Troutman from Womble Bond Dickinson has an interesting summary of a case from the District Court for the Western District of New York in which Navient Solutions was granted summary judgment after being sued for allegedly violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. What makes the case interesting, Troutman points out, is that the case hinges on Congress instructing the Federal Communications Commission to implement rules regarding the permission for entities collecting on behalf of the federal government to use automated telephone dialing systems, but the FCC never following through and actually implementing the rule.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Schneider v. Navient Solutions can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff obtained a pair of student loans in 2008 and 2009. In 2012, he entered into a forbearance program. In 2015, Navient began contacting him because the forbearance program had ended. In 2016, there was a conversation between a Navient collector and the plaintiff in which the plaintiff said “I’d like to ask that you guys stop calling me.” The plaintiff, when pressed by the collector about entering into another forbearance program, said, “We’ll talk about this another time.” After the conversation, Navient called the plaintiff 16 more times during a two-week span. The plaintiff subsequently filed suit, alleging violations of the TCPA.

In granting summary judgment, the judge in this case — Judge Charles Siragusa — ruled that Congress’ intent to exempt calls related to debts owed to the federal government is sufficient, even if the FCC failed to enact such rules. Those rules, had they been enacted, would have limited collectors to three calls over a 30-day period.

On the other hand, Plaintiff’s interpretation of Section 301 — that the FCC could (intentionally or otherwise) thwart the will of Congress and the President by simply failing to prescribe regulations within nine months, is not suggested by the plain language of the statute and does not strike the Court as a reasonable or desirable interpretation.




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