Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Communications Law
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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that DISH violated the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) in its attempts to collect debt it knew had been discharged in bankruptcy and in its direct contacts with plaintiff knowing she was represented by counsel. Plaintiff also alleged that DISH violated the Telephone Consumer Practices Act (TCPA) by contacting plaintiff about the debt with an automated dialing system after she revoked her consent to receive such calls. The Eleventh Circuit first determined that DISH's claim for the Pause debt was discharged. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the FCCPA claims. In this case, DISH attempted to collect debt it had no legal right to collect because the debt had been discharged in bankruptcy, and DISH directly contacted plaintiff after having received notice that she was represented by counsel. Accordingly, the court remanded on the FCCPA claims for the district court to consider whether DISH actually knew that the Pause charges were invalid and that plaintiff was represented by counsel with regard to the debt it was attempting to collect, and if so, whether such errors were unintentional and the result of bona fide error. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the TCPA claim, holding that the TCPA does not allow unilateral revocation of consent given in a bargained-for contract. The court reasoned that, by permitting plaintiff to unilaterally revoke a mutually-agreed-upon term in a contract would run counter to black-letter contract law in effect at the time Congress enacted the TCPA. View "Medley v. Dish Network, LLC" on Justia Law

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Under Section 227 of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, to be an auto-dialer, the equipment must (1) store telephone numbers using a random or sequential number generator and dial them or (2) produce such numbers using a random or sequential number generator and dial them. Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the companies' unsolicited phone calls violated the Act. Plaintiffs alleged that the companies placed the calls through "Automatic Telephone Dialing Systems," which the Act regulates and restricts. The Eleventh Circuit held that because neither phone system used randomly or sequentially generated numbers and because the phone system in Plaintiff Glasser's appeal required human intervention and thus was not an auto-dialer, the Act does not cover them. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in Glasser's case, and affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment in Plaintiff Evans' case. View "Glasser v. Hilton Grand Vacations Co., LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law
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Plaintiff filed a class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, alleging that DIRECTV and the company it contracted with to provide telemarketing services, Telecel, failed to maintain the do-not-call list and continued to call individuals who asked not to be contacted. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's certification order, holding that the unnamed members of the putative class who did not ask DIRECTV to stop calling them were not injured by the failure to comply with the regulation. Therefore, their injuries were not fairly traceable to DIRECTV's alleged wrongful conduct, and thus they lacked Article III standing to sue DIRECTV. The court also held that, although the case was justiciable because the named plaintiff had standing, the district court abused its discretion in certifying the class as it is currently defined. In this case, determining whether each class member asked Telecel to stop calling requires an individualized inquiry, and the district court did not consider this problem at all when it determined that issues common to the class predominated over issues individual to each class member. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Cordoba v. DIRECTV, LLC" on Justia Law

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Receiving a single unsolicited text message, sent in violation of a federal statute, is not a concrete injury in fact that establishes standing to sue in federal court. Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) after he received unsolicited text messages from defendant's law firm. The court found that the history and the judgment of Congress did not support a finding of concrete injury in plaintiff's allegations. In this case, plaintiff's allegations of a brief, inconsequential annoyance were categorically distinct from those kinds of real but intangible harms. The court noted that its assessment was qualitative, not quantitative. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss without prejudice the amended complaint. View "Salcedo v. Hanna" on Justia Law

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Hotels filed suit against Safemark on behalf of a putative class, alleging that faxes sent to franchisees violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it unlawful to send certain unsolicited fax advertisements. The district court denied certification and held that the solicited-fax rule, a regulation of the FCC that required solicited faxes to include compliant opt-out notices, was invalid. The district court subsequently granted summary judgment to Safemark. While the appeals were pending, the Commission eliminated the solicited-fax rule in light of the DC Circuit's decision that the rule is invalid. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err when it ruled that the faxes were solicited because the hotels gave their prior express permission to receive faxes from Safemark. Furthermore, because the Commission eliminated the solicited-fax rule during the pendency of his consolidated appeal, Safemark's faxes need not have contained opt-out notices. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment for Safemark. View "Gorss Motels, Inc. v. Safemark Systems, LP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law
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Verizon filed suit challenging the Board's denial of its application for a special use permit to construct a cellular communications tower. The district court dismissed the action as time-barred under the thirty-day limitations period of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA). The Eleventh Circuit reversed, holding that the Board's action became final not when the Clerk entered a document in the Ordinances and Resolutions books, as the district court found, but when the Board approved the minutes of the meeting at which it voted on Verizon's application. The court reasoned that only when an applicant receives sufficient notice does the decision become "final," and only then can the thirty-day clock begin to run. In this case, the minutes, created pursuant to published statute, provided the notice that due process and the Supreme Court's interpretation of the TCA required. View "Athens Cellular, Inc. v. Oconee County, Georgia" on Justia Law

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Former Coach of the Miami Dolphins, James Turner, filed suit against defendants, alleging defamation claims under Florida law related to defendants' publication of a report, which concluded that bullying by other Dolphins players contributed to Jonathan Martin's decision to leave the team. The Eleventh Circuit held that none of the challenged statements contained in the report were actionable for defamation; no alleged omission or juxtaposition of facts in the report stated a claim for defamation by implication; and Turner was a public figure who failed to adequately plead that defendants acted with malice in drafting and publishing the report. View "Turner v. Wells, Jr." on Justia Law

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The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227 et seq., permits a consumer to partially revoke her consent to be called by means of an automatic telephone dialing system. The Eleventh Circuit thought it logical that a consumer's power under the TCPA to completely withdraw consent and thereby stop all future automated calls encompasses the power to partially withdraw consent and stop calls during certain times. In this case, the court held that summary judgment was inappropriate because a reasonable jury could find that plaintiff partially revoked her consent to be called in "the morning" and "during the workday" on the October 13 phone call with a Comenity employee. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Schweitzer v. Comenity Bank" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether an order form faxed to a doctor by a company that supplies a medical product purchased by that doctor's patient constitutes an "unsolicited advertisement" within the meaning of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227(a)(5). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, agreeing with the district court that faxes were not "unsolicited advertisements." The court held that the faxes in this case did not promote the sale of Arriva products and thus they were not unsolicited advertisements. In this case, each fax related to a specific order already placed by a patient of the clinic and requested only that the doctor of the patient fill out an order form to facilitate a purchase made by the patient. View "The Florence Endocrine Clinic v. Arriva Medical" on Justia Law

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A jury concluded that defendant violated the Store Communications Act (SCA), 18 U.S.C. 2701-2712, when, in accordance with her lawyer’s advice, she viewed her ex-husband's (plaintiff) emails in an effort to prove to the divorce court that plaintiff was lying about and hiding assets. The jury did not award damages to plaintiff. Plaintiff appealed to the district court and the district court awarded a more modest amount than the requested $450,000 and refused to award attorney's fees. Plaintiff appealed. The court concluded that it has no authority to award actual or punitive damages when the jury has rejected the entry of such an award. Further, under the SCA, the court does not have the authority to award statutory damages in the absence of actual damages. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's determination not to award punitive damages; vacated the award of statutory damages in the absence of actual damages; and affirmed the denial of attorney's fees. View "Vista Marketing, LLC v. Burkett" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law