In a contentious open meeting on June 18, a sharply divided FCC issued controversial new rules aimed at addressing numerous petitions seeking clarifications of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The new rules place significant burdens on businesses using automatic telephone dialing technology and will likely result in a surge of class action litigation that affects virtually all companies.
The TCPA Team, which advises and defends a number of leading companies, responded forcefully to the new rules and explained what they mean for businesses and future litigation.
Seamus Duffy, Partner and Chair of the firm’s Class Action practice and a nationally recognized thought leader in this area of the law, spoke with Law360 about the undue burden of the new rules and the trap it places on well-intentioned businesses. You can read the article, FCC Robocall Rules A Potential Gold Mine For TCPA Lawyers.
In a blog post titled, The FCC Holds Contentious Open Meeting, Majority Votes To Arm Plaintiffs With New Swords And Businesses With Few Shields, Laura Phillips, Seamus Duffy and Michael Daly provide an overview of the FCC meeting and the new rules.
The TCPA Litigation team also released a statement reacting to the new rules.
“The FCC missed an opportunity today to rein in a wave of class action litigation that is helping nobody but lawyers. The Commission could have made some practical clarifications to the 1991 law to guide businesses in their modern communications with customers. Instead, and unfortunately, they have attempted to broaden the reach of the statute in a way that will inevitably lead to more class action lawsuits that do not and will not advance the purposes of the law. It’s really a shame. As Commissioner Pai said in his comments, the primary beneficiaries of the FCC’s Order today will be trial lawyers.”
“I’m not sure the Commission really appreciates the coercive effect that a $500 statutory damages provision can have in litigation involving mass communications. The slightest misstep by a compliance-oriented company acting in good faith and trying to navigate the law and also communicate with its customers can land you in a $500 million dollar class action lawsuit. Chairman Wheeler was absolutely right in his comments to point out that the FCC can’t change or revoke this statutory damages formula, and that Congress is the place to go for TCPA class action reform. But the Commission should not have tried to broaden the reach of the statute and could have done more to curb lawsuits that don’t advance the purposes of the law. I think they really missed an opportunity in this regard, and it’s unfortunate.”
For continuing developments and breaking news involving the TCPA—including reports on new decisions, trends and other insights—follow our TCPA blog (www.tcpablog.com).