Courts narrowly interpreting an automated telephone dialing system under TCPA

These most recent cases demonstrate a trend to limit the reach of the ATDS definition

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) defines an auto dialer as “equipment which has the capacity (A) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and (B) to dial such numbers.”

Using this definition, just last year one court in Wisconsin ruled in Nelson v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc. that a defendant may be liable for violating the TCPA, even if the call is dialed by a live person, so long as the telephone used is capable of making an autodialed call. Fortunately, the court vacated its opinion three months later. While the Nelson opinion is no more, at the time it provided a frightening lesson in how easily a seemingly compliant telephone system could be still construed as falling within the scope of an automated telephone dialing system (ATDS).

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Ana Tagvoryan

Ana Tagvoryan handles a wide variety of privacy, social media, and unfair competition matters in federal and state courts of California. She is a member...

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Joshua Briones

Joshua Briones advises clients regarding compliance with state and federal laws, which govern the use and disclosure of consumer information. Mr. Briones is a member...

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Harrison Brown

Harrison Brown counsels clients regarding privacy and consumer actions, data breach suits, unfair competition and related business torts, and corporate compliance. He is a member...

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