Appeals Court Affirms TCPA Ruling for Defendant Over Lack of Standing

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of a Telephone Consumer Protection Act suit in which the District Court ruled the plaintiff lacked standing to sue because he never claimed anything other than a “bare procedural harm that resulted in no harm.”

A copy of the ruling in the case of Leyse v. Bank of America National Association can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff, who happened to work for a lawyer who specialized in filing TCPA lawsuits, answered a call in 2005 on a landline that was intended for the plaintiff’s roommate. The company making the call on behalf of the defendant did not have a representative available, so a pre-recorded message was played.

After receiving the call, the plaintiff placed more than 20 calls to the company, and used a false name and employer to ask about the services provided by the company, the dialing system that was used, and how many pre-recorded messages it left every day.

In 2011, the plaintiff sued the defendant. In his suit, which included a single count violation of the TCPA, the plaintiff did not allege that he suffered any annoyance or nuisance from the call. The defendant moved for summary judgment and won, with the District Court judge ruling the plaintiff lacked standing to sue and that the content of the message did not violate the TCPA.

The plaintiff appealed, arguing that all he had to do was allege the statutory violation in order to have standing to sue, but the Appeals Court didn’t see it the same way, declining to adopt such an “absolute rule of standing with respect to the TCPA.”

The TCPA is intended to prevent harm from nuisance calls and invasions of privacy, the Appeals Court wrote. That means the plaintiff has to allege one of those injuries in order to demonstrate a concrete injury.

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