Appeals Court Upholds Denial of Certification in TCPA Case

The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has upheld a lower court’s denial of class certification in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged to have received more than 200 robocalls from an auto lender, agreeing with the lower court that the plaintiff did not provide enough information to define the scope of the class.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Rivera v. Exeter Finance Corp., can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the defendant violated the TCPA by calling his cell phone more than 200 times, sometimes in the “early morning hours and as many as seven times a day,” according to the Appeals Court ruling. He filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging the defendant violated the TCPA by making calls to individual’s cell phones using an automated telephone dialing system without first obtaining the proper consent to do so. The District Court denied both of the plaintiff’s attempts to certify the class. The plaintiff appealed the second denial to the Tenth Circuit.

The issue, at least as far as the District Court and the Appeals Court were concerned, was that the plaintiff simply included a list of 482 names and failed to submit a proposed class definition. Such a “novel” approach “puts the cart before the horse,” the Tenth Circuit ruled.

By only providing a list of names and not a definition for the class, the Court would have to “work backwards to determine which commonalities between the members could make it a class in order to come up with a class definition,” the Appeals Court wrote. “But defining the class from scratch is not the district court’s job.”

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