On March 13, 2023, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to rehear the issue of whether a single unsolicited text message confers standing under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"). This is an important issue for all TCPA text message lawsuit defendants.
As background, Plaintiffs filed this class action lawsuit in the Southern District of Alabama alleging that GoDaddy.com. LLC ("GoDaddy") violated the TCPA by placing calls and sending text messages using an automated telephone dialing system without recipient consent. After the parties reached agreement on the terms of a settlement, the parties moved for preliminary approval of the TCPA text class action settlement. Briefing was then ordered by the Court as to whether Salcedo v. Hanna precluded approval of the class. The Salcedo decision held that the receipt of a single unwanted text message was not a concrete injury and, thus, did not confer standing to sue under the TCPA. The District Court in the GoDaddy proceeding at hand held that Salcedo applied and, therefore, required that the named plaintiff, who only received a singular text message, be removed as class representative. On that condition, the District Court certified the rest of the class and awarded attorneys' fees. Class member, Pinto, objected to the settlement, and filed a notice of appeal claiming that it violated the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA") as it offered class members the choice between cash or a GoDaddy voucher. Pinto argued that the voucher was a coupon, which made the settlement subject to the heightened scrutiny of CAFA.
On July 27, 2022, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit raised the issue of subject matter jurisdiction, sua sponte, and held that the approval of class certification and settlement must be vacated and remanded. The panel reasoned that all plaintiffs within the class definition must have standing. Thus, because the class included members who only received a single text message, the class lacked standing and could not properly be certified. Class counsel then petitioned the Eleventh Circuit for rehearing, which was granted. The Eleventh Circuit will now rehear the issue of whether a single text message confers standing under the TCPA.
What Does the Decision in This TCPA Text Message Lawsuit Mean For Defendants?
Text messages are increasingly becoming the basis for TCPA lawsuits. While the trend has been to allow TCPA text message lawsuits involving only a single unwanted text message, there is currently no universal consensus among courts. As such, the Eleventh Circuit's decision will be critical on the issue of standing. In light of the fact that each jurisdiction has its own rules on standing, having the right counsel is critical to ensure that your case is properly defended. In the meantime, defendants are free to continue to use Salcedo as a basis to defend against TCPA text message lawsuits.
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Be Specific: TCPA Standing in the Eleventh Circuit
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