Kelley Drye’s Communications Practice Group presents this tracker of active Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) petitions before the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”).  With the recent increase in litigation regarding alleged violations of the TCPA, many issues relating to the interpretation of the statute have been presented to the FCC by impacted parties.  These petitions can be primary jurisdiction referrals or be presented directly by a litigant in a TCPA action.  The FCC currently has a number of petitions pending related to TCPA interpretation.  The tracker below briefly summarizes each petition and the issues presented in them.

Click here to view the table.

New and Noteworthy:

FCC Approves Release of NPRM to Implement Government Debt TCPA Exemption

On May 4, 2016, the FCC commissioners voted to commence a rulemaking proceeding to create carve-out in the Commission’s rules against robocalls for calls that are placed for the purpose of collecting “a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.”  The new rules will be adopted pursuant to an amendment to the TCPA adopted as part of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 (“Budget Act”) that allows for such calls.  In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), the Commission seeks comment on a number of issues related to implementation of the amendment, including the following:

  • What types of calls should be covered by the exemption?  The Budget Act created the TCPA exemption for calls made “solely to collect a debt” owed to the United States.  The Commission seeks comment on the proper interpretation of that language.  It also proposes to allow debt servicing calls under the exemption because such calls “may provide a valuable service by offering information about options and programs designed to keep at-risk debtors from defaulting or becoming delinquent on their loans.”  Finally, the Commission seeks comment on the proper interpretation and scope of the phrase “owed to or guaranteed by the United States.” 
  • Who can be called?  The Commission proposes that the exemption will cover “only calls to the person or persons obligated to pay the debt.”  It would exclude calls to persons the caller does not intend to reach, and would apply the “one-call window” rule for reassigned numbers.  The Commission seeks comments on these proposals and asks commenters to provide alternative approaches they feel would be appropriate.
  • Who may place the calls?  The Commission proposes that the exemption would cover calls made by creditors and those calling on their behalf, including agents.  It seeks comment on whether it should adopt this approach, or consider a narrower or broader interpretation under the Budget Act exemption.
  • How should the Commission limit the number and duration of the calls?  The Budget Act provides the Commission with discretion to restrict covered calls, including by limiting the frequency and duration of the calls.  Thus, the Commission has proposed a three-call-per-month maximum for autodialed, prerecorded, or artificial voice calls to wireless numbers.  The limit would apply regardless of whether a call went unanswered.  The Commission posits whether a different limitation would be appropriate for live agent calls.  Without setting forth specific proposals, the Commission also seeks comment on the appropriate duration for the calls, as well as other restrictions (i.e. limiting calls hours to 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM). 
  • Should consumers be permitted to stop covered calls?  The Commission proposes “that consumers should have a right to stop [covered] calls at any point the consumer wishes.”  It proposes that stop-calling requests would continue to apply even after the debt is transferred to other collectors.  It further proposes to require callers to inform consumers of their right to make a stop-calling request. 

Comments on the Commission’s proposals are due on June 6, 2016 and replies are due on June 21, 2016.  Following the comment period, we expect the proceeding to move quickly because the Commis

Awaiting Decision (Items on “Circulation”)         

Broadnet Teleservices LLC; National Employment Network Association Declaratory; and RTI International – TCPA exemption for calls by or on behalf of the government
(circulated 3/14/16)

Broadnet, NENA, and RTI filed separate petitions seeking a declaratory ruling that the TCPA and the Commission’s implementing rules do not apply to calls made by or on behalf of federal, state, and local governments when such calls are made for official purposes.  The draft declaratory ruling on circulation will address all three petitions.

Broadnet offers a service called “Teleforum” through which elected officials and other government representatives can contact consumers about issues that may be relevant to them.  Broadnet asserts that due to ambiguity in the Commission’s interpretation of the TCPA, consumers who rely only on wireless phones may be “deprived” of such communication.  As such, Broadnet asks the Commission to declare that, pursuant to the plain meaning of the statute, “the term ‘person’ does not include federal, state, and local government entities and officers acting in their official capacities.”

RTI, a contractor that conducts research calls on behalf of several federal government agencies, argues that the United States government is exempt from the TCPA because it does not fall within the definition of “person” and the TCPA only prohibits calls by persons.  RTI was recently sued after making calls as part of the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, and claims that if the FCC does not clarify that the government is exempt from TCPA restrictions, similar future litigation will “threaten the continued viability” of similar research surveys.

NENA is an organization comprised of providers of employment services for individuals that receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.  These providers are contracted by the Social Security Administration.  Specifically, the petition asks that the Commission clarify that these providers are exempt from the autodialer or prerecorded call restrictions because they “have a mandate to contact program-eligible beneficiaries to inform them about their options for returning to self-supporting employment.”

Blackboard, Inc. – limits on TCPA jurisdiction
(filed February 24, 2015; circulated on 12/21/15)

Blackboard submitted a petition seeking a declaratory ruling that the TCPA rules “do not apply to informational, non-commercial, nonadvertising, and non-telemarketing autodialed and prerecorded messages sent by Blackboard’s educational institution customers because those calls are made for ‘emergency purposes.’”  Alternatively, Blackboard asks the Commission for a broad reading of prior express consent to include either the wireless number called (even if the number has been reassigned) or the intended recipient of the call rather than an inadvertent recipient. 

Blackboard is the subject of a TCPA lawsuit on the basis of informational calls and text messages sent to consumers regarding educational information (i.e. school announcements and closures).  Blackboard transmits these calls and messages to phone numbers provided by schools that participate in the notification program.  Blackboard argues that these informational messages should be distinguished from telemarketing calls and that they are made for “emergency purposes” and therefore not subject to the same consent and delivery restrictions as other calls.

Other Pending Petitions

Petitions are grouped by their primary subject matter.

Petitions Relating to “Prior Express Written Consent"

1. Mobile Media Technologies (filed March 7, 2016)

  • Rita’s has requested a limited retroactive waiver of the Commission’s “prior express written consent” rule for certain promotional text messages sent to customers between October 16, 2013 (the effective date of the rule) and July 17, 2015 (when Rita’s ceased sending all text messages).  Like many other petitioners seeking TCPA relief or clarification from the FCC, Rita’s is currently defending itself in a class action lawsuit based on these promotional text messages.

2. Rita’s Water Ice Franchise Company, LLC (filed December 2, 2015)

  • Rita’s has requested a limited retroactive waiver of the Commission’s “prior express written consent” rule for certain promotional text messages sent to customers between October 16, 2013 (the effective date of the rule) and July 17, 2015 (when Rita’s ceased sending all text messages).  Like many other petitioners seeking TCPA relief or clarification from the FCC, Rita’s is currently defending itself in a class action lawsuit based on these promotional text messages.
  • Rita’s argues that it is entitled to a similar waiver to that which was granted to the Coalition of Mobile Engagement Providers and the Direct Marketing Association in the Commission’s July 2015 TCPA Order, in recognition that “there was legitimate confusion over whether a written consent obtained before October 16, 2013 remained valid after that date if the written consent did not precisely track the new ‘prior express written consent’ standard.”  The waiver Rita’s seeks would only apply to those messages for which the company had received the recipient’s consent prior to October 16, 2013.
  • On December 14, 2015, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-1421) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on January 13, 2016 and replies were due on January 28, 2016.

3. National Cable & Telecommunications Association (filed October 1, 2015)

  • The NCTA seeks to have extended to its members the retroactive and prospective waiver granted by the Commission in its July 2015 TCPA order of its rules requiring regulated entities to obtain prior express written consent from a consumer before placing a call to that consumer’s wireless phone number.  NCTA argues that the same relief that was given to the Direct Marketing Association and others is warranted for its members because they have “suffered the same confusion, and are exposed to the same kind of ‘pointless and expensive class action litigation’” as the entities that originally received the waiver.  NCTA noted in its petition that although the prospective aspect of the waiver was set to expire on October 7, its members would still benefit from it because it “would provide NCTA’s members sufficient time to comply with the prior express written consent requirement and would enable NCTA’s members to better defend claims and avoid unnecessary and costly litigation moving forward.”
  • On November 3, 2015, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-1246) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on December 3, 2015 and replies were due on December 18, 2015.

4. National Association of Broadcasters (filed August 18, 2015)

  • The NAB seeks to have extended to its members the retroactive and prospective waiver of the Commission’s rules requiring regulated entities to obtain prior express written consent from a consumer before placing a call to that consumer’s wireless phone number.  The waiver was originally granted in the Commission’s July 2015 TCPA order to the Coalition of Mobile Engagement Providers, the Direct Marketing Association, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
  • On September 25, 2015, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-1074) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on October 26, 2015 and replies were due on November 9, 2015.

5. American Bankers Association (filed August 8, 2015)

  • The American Bankers Association seeks a reconsideration and modification of the exemptions granted to financial institutions in the Commission's Declaratory Ruling and Order. The exemption permits financial institutions to send automated, free-to-end-user calls and texts to mobile devices concerning potentially fraudulent transactions, breaches of customers' personal data, remediation measures to prevent identity theft, and notification of money transfers. However, the exemption permits calls and texts only to "the wireless telephone number provided by the customer." The ABA argues that this "provided by" limits the value of the exemption and order should be modified to read "exempted calls and texts may be sent only to affected customers and money transfer recipients."

6. F-19 Petition (filed July 29, 2015)

  • Fitness 19 (F-19), a national gym franchise, seeks a retroactive waiver of the application of 47 U.S.C. § 227 and FCC Order 12-21 "with respect to the requirement to obtain additional express consent from gym members prior to sending text message marketing correspondence through an automated telephone dialing system."  F-19 seeks the same benefit the FCC conferred upon members of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).5.     
  • F-19, like many other petitioners, is currently fighting a TCPA class action suit related to contacting its customers through automated messages.
  • On September 25, 2015, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-1074) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on October 26, 2015 and replies were due on November 9, 2015.

7. Kale Realty (filed July 23, 2015)

  • Kale Realty (Kale) is seeking a retroactive waiver regarding the written consent requirements contained in section 64.1200(a)(2).  Kale Realty is fighting a putative class action lawsuit based on a single unsolicited text advertisement that Kale argues was in essence a job ad.  Kale had a prior personal and professional relationship with the recipient.
  • On September 25, 2015, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-1074) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on October 26, 2015 and replies were due on November 9, 2015.

8. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, LLC (filed February 23, 2015)

  • Mammoth Mountain’s petition seeks a declaratory ruling either that: (1) “consents obtained prior to the October 16, 2013 rule change through consumers’ voluntary provision of their telephone number remain valid as prior contractual obligations and invalidating these consents amounts to an improper retroactive impairment of Mammoth Mountain’s contractual rights”; or (2) the Commission misinterpreted the meaning of “prior express consent” in its 2012 order finding that prior express consent required a company to obtain the consumer’s written consent.
  • Mammoth Mountain, like many other petitioners, is currently fighting a TCPA class action suit related to telemarketing calls made former customers.
  • On March 9, 2015, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-300) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on April 6, 2015 and replies are due on April 21, 2015.

9. Edison Electric Institute and American Gas Association (filed February 12, 2015)

  • EEI and AGA have asked the Commission to issue a declaratory ruling that a “utility customer’s provision of a telephone number, including a cellphone number, to an energy utility satisfies the TCPA consent requirements for such customer to receive non-telemarketing, informational calls at that number related to the customer’s utility service.” 
  • The petition notes that although the Commission has previously indicated that certain communications from a utility company to its customers are exempt from the TCPA’s consent requirements (i.e. for emergency communications), it has not issued a “comprehensive statement” on the issue of what consent is required for non-emergency communications from energy utilities.  The petition claims that the absence of such a statement has allowed “an aggressive plaintiffs’ bar” to pursue TCPA litigation against utility companies “that, in a rational world, would kindly be described as absurd.”
  • On February 24, 2015, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-244) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on March 26, 2015 and replies are due on April 10, 2015.

10Citizens Bank, N.A. (filed January 16, 2015)

  • Citizens Bank seeks a declaratory ruling that “when a called party has taken purposeful and affirmative steps to advertise her cell phone number as the point of contact for normal business communications, non-telemarketing calls made to that cell phone number are exempt from liability under” the TCPA.  The company argues that by “inviting the public, through advertisements, to call that cell phone number,” an individual has consented to receiving at least non-telemarketing calls – even if those calls are auto-dialed or pre-recorded.
  • Citizens Bank notes in its petition that the company is fighting a TCPA lawsuit in which the plaintiff claims that Citizens Bank is vicariously liable for debt collection calls made to her cell phone (that she used in advertisements for her business) on behalf of Citizens Bank.  In support of its argument that the calls did not violate the TCPA, the company points to the statute’s legislative history and previous statements by the FCC indicating that in other contexts (i.e. facsimiles), making a number available to the public denotes consent to receive calls to that number.
  • On February 12, 2015, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-209) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on March 16, 2015 and replies were due on March 31, 2015.

Petitions Relating to “Junk” Faxing Rules

The following petitions pertaining to the same requirement are still pending in the TCPA docket:

1. Kohll's Pharmacy & Homecare, Inc. (filed Mar. 24, 2016)

  • The petition, filed by a provider of medical equipment, requests a declaratory ruling that facsimiles sent on its behalf did not violate the TCPA “where the facsimiles simply informed businesses of the health benefits of corporate flu vaccines.”  The petitioner claims that such transmissions do not fit within the definition of an “unsolicited advertisement” because “the purpose of the facsimile transmission was to ‘promote wellness … so that people would get vaccinated and not get ill.’” 
  • Kohll’s, like many other petitioners, is currently fighting a TCPA class action suit related to faxes sent on its behalf that purportedly violate the Act.

2. Joseph T. Ryerson & Son, Inc. (filed Nov. 4, 2015)

  • Petitioner Joseph T. Ryerson & Son, Inc. (“Ryerson”) has asked the Commission to issue a declaratory ruling that “faxes that initiate in digital form and are received in digital form do not fall within the TCPA.”  Ryerson argues that these types of transitions are more akin to emails than traditional faxes, and therefore should be regulated under the CAN-SPAM Act.  It further argues that applying the TCPA to digital fax transmissions would violate the First Amendment and would be void for vagueness under the First and Fifth Amendments.
  • Ryerson, like many other petitioners, is currently fighting a TCPA class action suit related to alleged unsolicited faxes received by the plaintiff from Ryerson.

3. Westfax, Inc. (filed Oct. 23, 2012)

  • In its petition, Westfax sought clarification of several issues related to sending e-faxes, noting that he Commission had not updated its rules since 2006.  First, the company asked the Commission to clarify whether e-faxes are considered faxes, as well as whether and to what extent TPCA and Junk Fax Protection Act rules apply to e-faxes.  Second, they ask who is considered the "recipient of an e-fax.
  • The petition also requests clarification on a number of questions related to "opt-out" requirements, including whether standard "opt-out" language would be acceptable and the liability of third-party fax broadcasters.

Anda, Inc. Retroactive Waiver.  On October 30, 2014, the FCC released an order addressing an application for review filed by Anda, Inc. and related petitions seeking clarification of the Commission’s rules requiring individuals and entities that send fax advertisements to include certain information on the fax to allow recipients to “opt-out” of receiving such transmissions in the future.  The FCC denied all of the petitions insofar as they requested the FCC to rule that the “opt out” language requirement did not apply to faxes sent with the prior express consent of the recipient, but granted a retroactive waiver to the petitioners and other similarly situated parties because the scope of the opt-out requirement was previously unclear.  Prior to October 30, 2014, there were 24 additional petitions pending that sought clarification of the  “opt-out” notice requirement in Section 64.1200(a)(4)(iv) of the FCC’s rules.  Through the Anda order (FCC 14-164), the Commission granted a retroactive waiver of the opt-out notice requirement): Anda, Inc.; Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Staples, Inc.; Gilead Sciences, Inc.; Douglas Walburg/Richie Enterprises, LLC; Futuredontics, Inc.; All Granite & Marble Corp.; Purdue Pharma; Prime Health Services, Inc.; TechHealth, Inc.; Crown Mortgage Company; Magna Chek, Inc.; Masimo Corp.; Best Buy Builders, Inc.; S&S Firestone, Inc.; Cannon & Associates d/b/a Polaris Group; Stericycle, Inc.; American CareSource Holdings, Inc.; Carfax, Inc.; Merck and Company, Inc.; UnitedHealth Group, Inc.; MedLearning, Inc. and Medica, Inc.; Unique Vacations, Inc.; and Power Liens, LLC.

Prior to the Anda order, but not addressed in that order, two parties had petitioned for similar relief.  Francotyp-Postalia, Inc. (FP Mailing Solutions, Inc.) (filed October 14, 2014); Allscripts (several petitioners filed this collectively) (filed September 30, 2014).  On November 4, 2014, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 14-1598) seeking comment on the petitions.  The Public Notice stated that, as a result of the Anda order, it was not necessary to consider these petitioners’ requests for declaratory ruling.  It sought comment on the requests for retroactive waiver consistent with the Anda order.  Comments were due on November 18, 2014 and replies were due on November 25, 2014.

On August 28, 2015, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released an Order granting retroactive waivers to 117 petitioners, consistent with the FCC’s October 2014 decision in Anda.  Generally, the Bureau Order granted petitions filed before June 23, 2015.  Following the Order, the Commission has received seven applications for review of the decision to grant the waiver.  In response, more than a dozen of the entities that benefited from the retroactive waiver have filed oppositions to these applications.  However, the Commission has not yet responded to the requests.

Since the August 2015 order was released, the following parties have sought retroactive waivers on this issue:

  • Megadent, Inc. (June 24, 2015) – granted 12/9/15 (DA 15-1402)
  • Ivoclar Vivadent, Inc. (June 24, 2015) – denied 12/9/15 (DA 15-1402)
  • Renaissance Systems and Services, LLC (June 25, 2015) – denied 12/9/15 (DA 15-1402)
  • Zimmer Dental, Inc. (July 16, 2015) – denied 12/9/15 (DA 15-1402)
  • Costco Wholesale, Corp. (July 20, 2015) – granted 12/9/15 (DA 15-1402)
  • Athena Health, Inc. (August 6, 2015) – denied 12/9/15 (DA 15-1402)
  • Ohio National Mutual, Inc. (August 21, 2015) – denied 12/9/15 (DA 15-1402)
  • McVey Associates, Inc. (August 31, 2015) – withdrawn on 10/15/15
  • Dental Fix Rx LLC (September 11, 2015) – granted 12/9/15 (DA 15-1402)
  • Scrip Holding Co. (September 17, 2015) – granted 12/9/15 (DA 15-1402)
  • Source Media LLC (September 21, 2015) – granted 12/9/15 (DA 15-1402)
                 (Application for review of the waiver as applied to Source Media filed 1/5/16)
  • Virbac Corporation (November 9, 2015)
  • Advanced Care Scripts, Inc. (November 12, 2015)
  • Fetch, Inc. d/b/a Petplan (November 25, 2015)
  • AZCOMP Technologies, Inc. (December 4, 2015)
  • Weinberg & Associates (December 8, 2015)
  • Humana Insurance Company et al. (December 18, 2015)
  • Posture Pro, Inc. (February 23, 2016)
  • LKN Communications, Inc., d/b/a ACN, Inc. (March 1, 2016)
  • Educational Testing Service (March 16, 2016)
  • Inter-Med, Inc. d/b/a Vista Dental Products (March 25, 2016)
  • Legal & General America, Inc. (March 31, 2016)
  • Jeana Fleitz, LLC d/b/a The X-Ray Lady (April 6, 2016)
  • C. Specialties, Inc. (April 26, 2016)
  • Buccaneers Limited Partnership (April 28, 2016)

On July 31, 2015 the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-876) seeking comment on the following petitions: Megadent, Inc.; Ivoclar Vivadent, Inc.; Renaissance Systems and Services, LLC.; Zimmer Dental, Inc.; and Costco Wholesale Corp. Comments were due August 14, 2015 and replies were due on August 21, 2015.

On September 25, 2015 the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-1077) seeking comment on the following petitions: McVey Associates, Inc.; Dental Fix Rx LLC; Scrip Holding Co.; and SourceMedia LLC.  Comments were due October 9, 2015 and replies were due on October 16, 2015.

On December 4, 2015, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-1381) seeking comment on the following petitions: Virbac Corporation, Advanced Care Scripts, Inc., and Fetch, Inc. d/b/a Petplan.  Comments were due on December 18, 2015 and replies were due on December 30, 2015.

On January 29, 2016, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 16-102) seeking comment on the following petitions: AZCOMP Technologies, Inc.; Weinberg & Associates; Humana Insurance Company et al.  Comments were due on February 12, 2016 and replies were due on February 19, 2016.

On March 25, 2016, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 16-317) seeking comment on the following petitions: Posture Pro, Inc.; LKN Communications, Inc. d/b/a ACN, Inc.; and Educational Testing Service.  Comments were due on April 8, 2016 and replies are due on April 15, 2016.

Other Petitions

1. Todd C. Bank (filed Mar. 7, 2016)

  • The petitioner, an attorney with a home-based business, has asked the Commission to clarify that the rules prohibiting robocalls “apply to calls made to home-business telephone lines that are registered with the telephone-service provider as residential lines.”  He argues that such a clarification would be consistent with the language of the TCPA which states that the robocall provision of the Act applies to “any residential telephone line.”  He further asserts that this interpretation would be consistent with prior statements by the FCC on this issue. 
  • Mr. Bank is currently appealing a dismissal by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York of his class action lawsuit for TCPA violations.  Following submission of his petition, the FCC filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Mr. Bank’s request to stay the appellate case pending the Commission’s disposition of his FCC petition.
  • On March 31, 2016, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 16-341) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on May 2, 2016 and replies are due on May 17, 2016.

2. Papa Murphy's Holdings, Inc. and Papa Murphy's International L.L.C (filed Feb. 22, 2016)

  • Papa Murphy’s seeks a retroactive waiver of the Commission’s TCPA rules for text messages sent to individuals who had provided written consent to receive such messages from the company between October 16, 2013 and June 17, 2015.  Papa Murphy’s claims that it is similarly situated to parties that received a waiver of the FCC’s “prior express written” consent requirement for calls to mobile phones in the July 2015 Omnibus TCPA Order due to confusion about the rule.  Papa Murphy’s also seeks a “brief prospective waiver of 89 days to allow Papa Murphy’s to re-opt in those individuals who had provided written consent to receive text messages prior to October 16, 2013.”
  • On March 22, 2016, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 16-302) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on April 21, 2016 and replies were due on May 6, 2016.

3. Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC (filed Dec. 11, 2015)

  • Lifetime has asked the Commission to clarify that the TCPA and the Commission’s implementing rules “do not cover calls (including unsolicited, pr~recorded ones) providing information about television programing distributed by cable operators and cable programming networks that are intended to reach the cable operator's subscribers who are already entitled to watch such cable programming without having to pay any additional charges.”  Lifetime asserts that these calls are purely informational and not made for the purpose of advertising or marketing, and therefore not within the scope of the TCPA. 
  • On February 5, 2016, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 16-128) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on March 7, 2016 and replies were due on March 21, 2016.

4. Anthem, Inc. (filed June 10, 2015)

  • Anthem submitted a petition seeking a declaratory ruling and exemption regarding non-telemarketing healthcare calls.  Anthem asks that the FCC make non-telemarketing health care calls and text messages from health plans and providers subject to an “opt out” rather than “opt in” consent regime.  Anthem argues that these calls provide important information regarding the health and wellness of its members and provide an unique level of benefit to the consumer.
  • Anthem also asks that new categories of calls be added to the FCC’s existing list of calls already subject to the opt-out regime. Anthem identifies those calls that are (1)  case management calls to engage consumers in the treatment of existing medical conditions (2) preventative medicine calls to arm patients with information necessary to seek preventive care or (3) calls to arm consumers with information about using and maintaining medical benefits.
  • On August 31, 2015, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 15-979) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on September 30, 2015 and replies were due on October 15, 2015.
  • Note:  Although the petition was filed before the FCC’s TCPA Declaratory Ruling and Order (FCC 15-72), the Order did not address Anthem’s request.

5. Vincent Lucas (filed June 18, 2014)

  • Vincent Lucas asks for an expedited declaratory ruling holding that a person is vicariously or contributorily liable if that person provides substantial assistance or support to any seller or telemarketer when that person knows or consciously avoids knowing that the seller or telemarketer is engaged in any act or practice that violates 47 U.S.C. § 227(b) or (c).
  • The individual who filed this petition is currently involved in a lawsuit in which he alleges that three companies and two individuals “provided substantial assistance to several telemarketers while knowing that those telemarketers were engaged in practices that violate the TCPA.”  In his petition, Mr. Lucas claims that the magistrate judge in the litigation misinterpreted a former FCC ruling on vicarious liability and is planning to dismiss his vicarious and contributory liability claims.  
  • On July 9, 2014, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 14-976) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on August 8, 2014 and replies were due on August 25, 2014.

6. Acurian, Inc. (filed Feb. 5, 2014)

  • Acurian filed a petition seeking clarification that telephone call to a residential telephone line seeking an individual’s participation in a clinical pharmaceutical trial is exempt from the restrictions on prerecorded calls under the TCPA.  Acurian argues in its petition that it does not make calls for a commercial purpose.  Alternatively, the petition asserts that if Acurian’s calls are found to be commercial, that they do not constitute telemarketing or advertising calls. 
  • On February 20, 2014, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice (DA 14-229) seeking comment on the petition.  Comments were due on March 24, 2014 and replies were due on April 8, 2014.