The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday issued a long-awaited ruling in a lawsuit challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s interpretations of key terms under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (“TCPA”), holding that the FCC in 2015 had adopted an unreasonably broad definition of the type of calling equipment subject to special restrictions under the TCPA — a definition so broad it would include any modern smartphone — and had failed to adequately justify its approach regarding liability for calls placed to cell phone numbers that have been reassigned to a new user.
The court upheld the FCC’s ruling that a party who has consented to receive calls may revoke that consent “through any reasonable means clearly expressing a desire to receive no further messages from the caller.” The court also upheld the FCC’s decision to exempt from the TCPA’s consent requirements certain calls communicating urgent healthcare messages.
The D.C. Circuit’s unanimous decision addresses a consolidated set of petitions by various companies and trade associations — first filed in the summer and fall of 2015 and argued before the D.C. Circuit in 2016 — seeking review of a declaratory ruling released by the FCC in July 2015 (the “Omnibus Ruling”). In the Omnibus Ruling, the FCC ruled on a total of 21 petitions seeking “clarification or other actions” regarding the TCPA, principally in connection with automated calls and text messages.
Petitioners sought court review of four aspects of the Omnibus Ruling: Continue Reading