Restaurants Say Reservation Confirmations Are Not Nuisance Robocalls
WASHINGTON – The Restaurant Law Center wants the Supreme Court to overturn a 9th Circuit ruling that effectively classified calls and text messages to confirm dining reservations as nuisance robocalls.
The Center, an industry association representing about 1 million restaurant and food service outlets across the country, contend the 9th Circuit ruling in Facebook v. Duguid creates an “untenable and abusive legal landscape for legitimate businesses and consumers who request to communicate using modern technology.”
The plaintiff in the underlying case, Noah Duguid, sued Facebook after the social media giant sent him numerous automatic text messages without his consent.
Duguid said he was not on Facebook, and yet for 10 months he was repeatedly alerted by text message that someone was attempting to access his nonexistent Facebook account.
Duguid sued Facebook for violating a provision of the Telephone and Consumer Protection Act of 1991 that forbids calls placed using an automated telephone dialing system or autodialer.
A federal district court dismissed the lawsuit, accepting Facebook’s explanation that the equipment it used to send text messages to Duguid was not an ATDS within the meaning of the statute.
But the 9th Circuit reversed the lower court ruling, concluding that Facebook’s equipment plausibly fell under the definition of an ATDS because it had “the capacity to store numbers to be called and to dial such numbers automatically.”
In July, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, specifically to address a question at the heart of a nationwide circuit split: “Whether the definition of [an automatic telephone dialing system] … encompasses any device that can ‘store’ and ‘automatically dial’ telephone numbers, even if the device does not ‘us[e] a random or sequential number generator.’”
Currently, the 3rd, 7th, and 11th Circuits require number generation in order for technology to qualify as an ATDS. The 2nd and 9th Circuits, in contrast, have construed the statutory text more broadly and do not require number generation.
In its Amicus Brief, the Restaurant Law Center argues the resulting flurry of lawsuits and legal confusion caused by the circuit court split have forced restaurants and other retailers to choose between the types of communications valued by consumers or “exposing themselves to potentially crushing TCPA liability.”
“Rejecting the 9th Circuit’s interpretation will enable retailers and restaurants to send customers the information they want and need without facing the inherent risk of arbitrary and massive liability for doing so,” Restaurant Law Center Executive Director Angelo Amador said in a written statement.
“This case is not about robocalls. It is about important communications that consumers want like reminders and confirmations from familiar businesses,” Amador said.
“These types of communications, including those requested by consumers, are distinct from the types of intrusive robocalls that triggered Congress to write the TCPA. Overturning this case will enable customers to communicate with businesses using modern technology and will enable businesses to do so without threat of frivolous lawsuits,” he added.
In The News
WASHINGTON -- A California law that requires nonprofit organizations to disclose their donors met with skepticism among most of the U.S. Supreme Court’s justices during a hearing Monday. The law is opposed by coalitions of nonprofit organizations that say the disclosures could dry up their contributions... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — After more than a decade in which the Supreme Court moved gradually toward more leniency for minors convicted of murder, the justices on Thursday moved the other way.The high court ruled 6-3 along liberal-conservative lines against a Mississippi inmate sentenced to life in... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Civil liberties groups are asking the Supreme Court to give the public access to opinions of the secretive court that reviews bulk email collection, warrantless internet searches and other government surveillance programs.The groups say in an appeal filed with the high court Monday... Read More
WASHINGTON - President Biden will sign an executive order Friday that creates a bipartisan commission to study expanding the Supreme Court, as he promised throughout the 2020 election, the White House said. The commission will be chaired by former White House counsel Bob Bauer and Cristina... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Monday sided with Google in a long running copyright dispute over the software used in Android, the mobile operating system. The court decision was 6-2, as Justice Amy Coney Barrett had not yet been confirmed by the Senate when the... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a case over former President Donald Trump’s efforts to prevent critics from posting to his personal Twitter page, but Justice Clarence Thomas said a high court reckoning with the power of social media is on the horizon. “As... Read More