Author: Eric Troutman

Eric Troutman

Eric is one of the country’s prominent Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) defense attorneys, having served as lead defense counsel on over 30 nationwide TCPA class actions and having handled hundreds of individual TCPA cases. He also “wrote the book” on TCPA defense, having co-authored the nation’s first comprehensive practice guide on the subject. In addition, he has helped spearhead the banking industry’s push for TCPA clarity before the Federal Communications Commission and has assisted on numerous appeals addressing hot-button TCPA issues.

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Silver Lining Playbook: Ninth Circuit Reverses Retroactive Application of TCPA Amendment Limiting Liability for Calls Made to Collect on Government-Backed Debt

In 2015, Congress enacted an amendment to the TCPA that exempted calls made in an effort to collect upon federally-backed debt. The amendment seemed straightforward enough. By adding the word “except” to the statute, Congress clarified that the TCPA applies except where it doesn’t. And it doesn’t apply to calls regarding federally-backed debt. The end. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had a different take, however. In Silver v. Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s opinion applying the amendment retroactively, reasoning: “This case involves a statutory personal injury claim that had accrued prior to the date Congress enacted the TCPA amendment at issue. Ninth Circuit law is clear that retroactively extinguishing a personal claim that has already accrued implicates the strong presumption against retroactivity…”

Court Finds Text Message Offering Link to Dinner “Specials” Was Not Telemarketing Because the Customer Already Had a Dinner Reservation

Imagine sitting at home and receiving a text message from a restaurant inviting you to view their nightly dinner specials. That’s pretty clearly telemarketing, right? Now, imagine that you first called the restaurant to make a dinner reservation for that evening and also provided your cell phone number. The restaurant then sends you the exact same text message. What result? In a new decision from the Eastern District of California, Judge John A. Mendez held that such text messages are not telemarketing and are expressly permitted by the diner when the diner provides his or her phone number to the restaurant in connection with the dinner reservation.

Court Bends Every Procedural Rule to Grant Dismissal to Kohl’s in “Opt-Out Evader” TCPA Text Suit –Blesses Contractual Revocation Clause

One of the most annoying inhabitants of TCPA land is the Opt-Out Evader. This fellow or lady tries to set up TCPA lawsuits by texting phrases s/he knows will not be recognized by text service providers. Rather than simply texting “STOP,” the Opt-Out Evader texts, “It would be great if you would no longer text me. Thanks.” And instead of QUIT, s/he might say, “These text messages are really quite excessive so please cut it out.” It is all a scam, of course. Judge Brian Martinontti of the District of New Jersey saw this tactic a mile away and dealt a steely hand of rough justice this week to an Opt-Out Evader in Viggiano v. Kohl’s Dep’t Stores, Inc.

New York District Court Applies Reyes to Squash TCPA Suit Based Upon Consent Terms Built into Sallie Mae TCPA Class Action Settlement Agreement

In Rodriguez v. Student Assistance Corp.—the first published decision directly following the Second Circuit’s ruling in Reyes v. Lincoln Automotive Financial Services—an E.D.N.Y. judge granted summary judgment in favor of Navient Solutions in a TCPA case, disregarding allegations that the Plaintiff had “repeatedly” asked for automated calls to her cell phone to stop. The Court found that the revocation efforts were absolutely meaningless because the Plaintiff was a member of the Sallie Mae settlement and, by failing to opt out or otherwise submit a written revocation form, was bound to an eternity of debt collection calls from Sallie Mae and its corporate successors by virtue of the settlement agreement’s “class consent” clause.

Happy Halloween 2017! More TCPA Statistics to Freak You Out

This year’s TCPA filings are downright ghoulish, although slightly below last year’s count YTD. If that isn’t enough to make you scream, consider that TCPA class actions are still being filed at quadruple the rate seen before the FCC’s 2015 TCPA Omnibus ruling. But the really horrifying statistic this year is the .071 batting average that defendants have mustered on motions to stay TCPA cases pending the outcome of the ACA, Int’l appeal since August of this year.

Courts Appear to Be Losing Patience with ACA Int’l Stay Requests as One-Year Anniversary Looms

This coming Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of the oral argument in the big ACA, Int’l appeal of the FCC’s Omnibus TCPA ruling. District courts handling TCPA cases under the shadow of the ACA, Int’l appeal appear to have run out of patience with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal, or at least lost their faith that the ruling will be made swiftly. This is reflected by the increasingly number of denials of defendant motions to stay TCPA cases pending the outcome of the ACA Int’l appeal.

Court Issues Epic Smackdown to Professional TCPA Plaintiff Seeking to Sue PACER In Forma Pauperis

If the TCPA has a “rock bottom,” we may have just hit it. As recently explained by Judge Cynthia Bashant of the Southern District of California: “Roy Tuck and his wife Deborah Tuck, together with their son Richard Caruso and mother-in-law Clarice Tuck, appear to have developed a cottage industry suing their creditors for violations of the TCPA, the FDCPA and the FCRA. In each case, the parties request to proceed [in forma pauperis], listing liabilities that far exceed assets. Curiously, however, despite the fact that they have received settlements from approximately a dozen different defendants, their assets and cash in their bank accounts remained unchanged.”

Do Constitutional Protections Allow for the Reduction of TCPA Statutory Damage Awards? A Closer Look at Golan

Sometimes the toughest job a court faces is finding a way to do the right thing. When it comes to the crushing damages afforded by statute for violations of the TCPA, the “right” thing is often to reduce the award to something that loosely resembles the harm caused by the illegal conduct. But does the U.S. Constitution really afford an avenue to reduce damages to a prevailing plaintiff based upon due process or other concerns?