Recently, a Missouri federal court analyzed how the United States Supreme Court decision in Facebook v. Duguid (“Facebook”) interprets the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). In the aftermath of the TCPA Facebook decision, the Missouri court (the “Court”) in Miles v. Medicredit, Inc. addressed whether Miles’s TCPA autodialer claims could survive early scrutiny. The Court held that deciding whether Medicredit used an autodialer is better suited for summary judgment instead of earlier in a judgment on the pleadings.

How does the Miles decision impact TCPA Facebook litigation?

After receiving debt collection calls intended for an unknown third party, Mr. Miles sued Medicredit for violation of the TCPA’s autodialer provision. Medicredit contested the allegations and asked the Court to stay the case until the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Facebook. After Facebook, Medicredit moved for a judgment on the pleadings on the autodialer claim.

By way of background, courts apply the same plaintiff-friendly standard of review for a motion for judgment on the pleadings as they do for a motion to dismiss. If a plaintiff states a plausible claim, then courts generally deny the motion and allow the case to proceed to discovery.

In Miles, the Court applied this lenient standard when it denied the motion for judgment on the pleadings. In doing so, the Court, in line with other recent decisions, held that to state a TCPA autodialer claim, the plaintiff must plead that the defendant used a random or sequential number generator in placing the subject telephone calls. The Court diverged from recent decisions, however, when it found that it was a factual question as to whether Medicredit’s dialing equipment qualified as an autodialer. At this stage in the litigation, the Court resolved the factual issue in favor of the plaintiff, as the law requires. As a result, the Court denied the motion for judgment on the pleadings so that the case could proceed to discovery.

Why is the Miles decision important to my business?

In the wake of several positive decisions for telemarketers following Facebook, the TCPA landscape appears more favorable to the industry. Still, decisions like Miles show that, in some jurisdictions, businesses may not be able to get these pending cases dismissed quite as early as desired. That reality can impact budgets, audits, and certainly attorney’s fees.

Notwithstanding recent positive decisions, we have cautioned against jumping to early conclusions. The federal judiciary can be a patchwork quilt of judges, each interpreting the TCPA Facebook decision in his or her own way. The Miles decision will have a significant impact in Missouri, but may not hold as much sway in other jurisdictions. As the law develops, however, the regulatory picture will become clearer.

Hire experienced TCPA attorneys.

The TCPA can create headaches for businesses where the rules of the road change almost weekly. Businesses have enough to contend within the modern economy; adding TCPA compliance and litigation strategy to the list only adds to the angst. Hiring attorneys who focus on telemarketing law – compliance and defending against TCPA lawsuits – can help relieve that pressure.