In a case that was first highlighted at TCPAWorld.com, a Florida state appeals court has ruled that state courts in The Sunshine State have the same Article III concrete harm thresholds that federal courts do, and that the receipt of one unwanted text message is not enough for a plaintiff to have standing to sue. In issuing its ruling, the Third District Court of Appeal overturned a lower court’s ruling, reversed certification of a class, and directed that the case be dismissed.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Pet Supermarket v. Eldridge can be accessed by clicking here.
Eldridge visited a Pet Supermarket store in December 2017. At the store, he signed up — via text message — for a contest to win free dog food for a year. After the text was sent, he immediately received two messages, one confirming his entry and one with a link to the contest’s rules. Eldridge received five more text messages during a 14-week span, each of them containing an opt-out disclosure.
Eldridge filed suit in federal court, alleging Pet Supermarket violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending him the unwanted text messages. A District Court judge dismissed the case, ruling the plaintiff lacked standing to sue, using the ruling in Salcedo v. Hanna.
The plaintiff then filed the same case in state court, which ruled Eldridge had standing to sue because he only had to allege a violation of his statutory rights under the TCPA to have standing.
While not bound to the same requirements as federal courts, state courts in Florida — as articulated by the state Supreme Court — have their own standard for determining standing. Plaintiffs must identify injuries that are concrete, distinct, and palpable, the Appeals Court noted. And, in class actions, if the plaintiff seeking certification has not suffered an injury, than the class should not be certified.
“… we find no merit to Eldridge’s contention that his allegation of a statutory violation of the TCPA alone establishes his standing to bring suit,” the Appeals Court wrote. “Although outside the constraints of Article III, Eldridge must still demonstrate a concrete harm or injury from the TCPA violation to demonstrate his standing in a Florida state court.”