In a landmark Court Ruling, the Orange County Superior Court has held in Cynthia Stockwell v. Credit Management, L.P., that in order for a defendant to be subjected to liability under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (48 U.S.C. § 227 et seq.) (“TCPA”), the defendant’s calling technology must have a number generator.
On October 3, 2013, the Orange County Superior Court for the state of California granted judgment in favor of Credit Management, LP on this very issue. Under the TCPA, a defendant must have been using an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (“ATDS”). The statute defines an ATDS as equipment which has the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and to dial those numbers. (47 USC § 227(a)(1).)
In its Summary Judgment motion, Credit Management argued and presented evidence that it does not have a number generator of any kind attached to its calling technology. Plaintiff offered no evidence in opposition and merely relied on numerous cases holding that predictive and preview dialers qualify as an ATDS.
In its ruling, the Court relied heavily on the Ninth Circuit opinion Satterfield v. Simon and Schuster, Inc. (9th Cir., 2009) 569 F.3d 946, which held that the definition of what an ATDS is, is clear and unambiguous. Thus, the Court is precluded from looking at any other source as an aide in interpreting and applying what that definition means; including the Stockwell Plaintiff’s contentions regarding predictive and preview dialers. The Court held that in order to qualify as an ATDS, the calling technology had to have a number generator and it was uncontroverted that Credit Management’s calling technology did not have a number generator. Therefore, Credit Management does not have an ATDS and cannot be exposed to liability under the TCPA.
This is a monumental ruling in the arena of TCPA litigation as the number of filings has exploded in recent years, including class action cases that sometimes seek tens of millions of dollars in damages. Representing Credit Management, L.P., was attorney Sean P. Flynn of Foley & Mansfield’s Los Angeles office.
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