Appeals Court Affirms Ruling for Defendant in TCPA ATDS Case

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s ruling in favor of a defendant that was accused of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by contacting the plaintiff using an automated telephone dialing system.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Meier v. Allied Interstate can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff claimed that the technology used by the defendant — LiveVox’s HCI platform — was an ATDS because it stored telephone numbers using a sequential number generator, based on the argument that customers uploaded lists that were dialed in the order they were provided — sequentially. But, using the definition claimed by the plaintiff, “virtually any system that stores a pre-produced list of telephone numbers would qualify as an ATDS,” which is the argument that was rejected by the Supreme Court in Facebook v. Duguid. In that case, the Supreme Court overturned a ruling that had been made by the Ninth Circuit which said that ATDS’s “need only have the capacity to store numbers to be called and to dial such numbers automatically.”

The plaintiff attempted to use a footnote in the Supreme Court’s ruling to make his case, but the argument failed because the platform needed to do more than just store pre-produced lists of numbers in the order they were uploaded.

Looking at the case on the merits, the Ninth Circuit ultimately determined that even if Duguid didn’t ruin the plaintiff’s argument, the District Court was correct to conclude that platform in question “does not have the capacity to automatically dial telephone numbers.

“The HCI dialer cannot function without a human agent clicking on phone numbers, and the Automated dialer excludes any human participation,” the Appeals Court wrote. “The dialers operate on different server pools and use different queuers to send out calls. Moreover, as the district court noted, interpreting ‘equipment’ to include distinct programs because they share a database or other component would drastically expand the sweep of the TCPA.”

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