A federal judge in California late last week ruled in favor of a defendant in a TCPA case by deciding that a platform for sending out text messages did not meet the definition of an automated telephone dialing system (ATDS). The ruling is seen as positive precedent for judicial ATDS interpretations.
Defendant Crunch San Diego, a company that operates gyms in California and other states, was hit with a class action TCPA suit in response to promotional text messages it sent to members. The plaintiff, Jordan Marks, claims he did not want the text (SMS) messages.
Crunch uses a third-party web-based platform to send promotional text messages to its members’ and prospective customers’ cell phones. Marks claimed that the platform behaved as an ATDS, therefore its use was prohibited in contacting cell phones under the TCPA.
Judge Cynthia Bashant, in the Southern District of California, ruled that was not the case, granting Crunch’s motion for summary judgment and dismissal.
Bashant relied not on the FCC’s previous opinions on the matter, but rather the strict language of the TCPA. “The system present here is factually distinct from the system described in the FCC comment,” Bashant wrote, referring largely to the 2012 case, Meyer v. Portfolio Recovery Associates.
The judge also referenced last year’s Satterfield decision in discussing present capacity.
“In Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster, Inc., the Ninth Circuit found the definition of an ATDS ‘clear and unambiguous,’ she said. “Because it is ‘clear and unambiguous,’ the FCC’s 2003 statutory interpretation of an ATDS is not binding on the Court.”
TCPA defense attorney David Kaminski thinks this case is a positive ruling that could have impact in future TCPA cases where there are questions about ATDSs.
“The judge notes that the text platform relevant here is factually distinct from the predictive dialer system described in the FCC 2003 and 2012 Rulings,” said Kaminski. “Even though the judge was interpreting a text platform, her logic in this case could be carried across multiple platforms.”