A District Court judge in Florida has granted a defendant’s motion to stay a case and placed it in civil suspense in order to await a rule from the Federal Communications Commission related to how an automated telephone dialing system is to be defined under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
A copy of the ruling in Secure v. Ultimate Fitness Group, LLC can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff filed a class-action lawsuits against the defendant, accusing it of violating the TCPA by sending telemarketing text messages using an ATDS without providing express consent to receive the solicitations.
The FCC had updated its definition of an ATDS when it issued its Declaratory Ruling back in July 2015, but that definition was undone after the agency was sued by ACA International for overstepping its constitutional authority. The FCC has announced it is working on a new rule which will likely include a new, updated definition of what constitutes an ATDS.
Left to their own devices, the judicial system is interpreting the lack of an official definition in a number of ways. Some judges are deferring to the language of the original TCPA, some are looking at other Declaratory Rulings that were issued by the FCC back in 2003 or 2008, and others are doing something in between.
Because the FCC is “currently seeking public comment and reconsidering the definition of an ATDS,” the judge in this case granted the stay until the FCC issues its definition.