This week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissing a lawsuit alleging autodialer- related liability against AllianceOne Receivables Management, Inc. (“AllianceOne”). The suit was brought by Wayne Norman, an individual with whom this firm has encountered in similar Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) disputes.

On what grounds did the Appeals Court dismiss the autodialer claims?

Norman brought suit alleging that he had received seven calls from AllianceOne on his cellular telephone through use of an autodialer in violation of the TCPA.   To support this claim, Norman argued that he heard a “pause,” “clicking,” and “dead air” before he was connected to a live operator, and further pointed to a Federal Communications Commission guide which stated that use of autodialers often results in hang ups and dead air. The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the autodialer claims, however, after favorably reviewing an affidavit from AllianceOne’s Vice President. His declaration described the relevant call log that demonstrated that all of the calls to Norman had been placed manually and that AllianceOne’s system to call cell phones actually lacks the capacity to make automated calls. The Court did not believe that Norman had any evidence to refute the AllianceOne business records.

Protect Your Business From Autodialer-Related Liability

We have written extensively about increased regulatory and judicial interest in autodialing, as well as telemarketing calls placed to cell phones in general. This case provides further proof of the importance of having proper practices and procedures in place concerning the use of autodialing technology. AllianceOne was ultimately able to avoid liability here by demonstrating that it was impossible for it to make use of an autodialer to impermissibly call Norman on his cell phone. In this regulatory environment, it is imperative to have telemarketing practices and procedures examined by experienced counsel prior to embarking on any telemarketing campaign in order to avoid potentially disastrous consequences in the event that a class action plaintiff or federal regulator brings suit for illegal use of autodialers.