Judge Grants MSJ in TCPA Case Over Called Party

In a case that was first noted by TCPAWorld, a District Court judge in Florida has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment after it was sued for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act because the person the defendant was trying to reach had forwarded his phone calls to his cousin, while also essentially laying waste to all collection-related TCPA suits in The Sunshine State.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Thompson v. Portfolio Recovery Associates can be accessed by clicking here.

The defendant was attempting to contact an individual about an unpaid debt. The individual had forwarded his phone number to his cousin’s phone number and not notified anyone of the move. The defendant made 17 calls during a 35-day period to try and reach the individual, but all of the calls were instead directed to the plaintiff’s phone.

Because the plaintiff was not the “called party” as defined by the TCPA, a “commonsense approach to the facts” indicates that the defendant was not trying to call the plaintiff.

“It hardly seems to be the case that the TCPA anticipated parties like Plaintiff would file suit against bona fide debt collectors for having called debtors who have re-routed their phone calls to other individuals,” wrote Judge Raag Singhal of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Furthermore, the defendant was entitled to summary judgment because it was not using an automated telephone dialing system to contact the plaintiff. In the Eleventh Circuit, which includes Florida, an ATDS is defined as technology that has “the capacity to produce or store telephone numbers using a random or sequential number generator.” In agreeing with the defendant’s argument that there is no reason for a debt collection company to call random or sequential numbers, Judge Singhal said the technology used by the defendant was not an ATDS.

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