After a long period of quiet on the issue, TCPAland has seen three swift decisions on good-Reyes (Reyes v. Lincoln Auto. Fin. Servs., 861 F.3d 51 (2d Cir. 2017), as amended (Aug. 21, 2017)) all aligning to enforce contractual TCPA consent provisions. First, Navient scored a big win, but that was within the Second Circuit so it didn’t make much of a stir. But then a real breakthrough: the Chief Judge of the Northern District of Alabama held that TCPA consent provisions in consumer agreements could not be revoked–the first such ruling from within the Eleventh Circuit. And now the triefecta. A court within the Middle District of Florida–seemingly the most consumer-friendly TCPA jurisdiction in the country as of late– granted summary judgment on a TCPA claim to a Defendant today holding that a consumer cannot stop robocalls after agreeing to receive such calls as a term in a written contract.
The case is Medly v. Dish Network, Case No. 8:16-cv-2534-T-36TBM, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144895 (M.D. Fl. Aug. 27, 2018) and it represents the first decision out of the Middle District of Florida to apply Good Reyes and hold that TCPA consent is irrevocable in certain circumstances. As shown below, Medley took no prisoners in distinguishing and declining to follow decisions that had held otherwise.
After first determining that the contractual consent provisions survived Plaintiff’s bankruptcy discharge because Plaintiff failed to include her debt to Dish on her schedules, the Court deftly articulated the governing rule of Good Reyes as follows:
“Although voluntary and gratuitous consent could be revoked under the common law, which was recognized by the Eleventh Circuit in Osorio, the Second Circuit explained that consent could ‘become irrevocable when it is provided in a legally binding agreement, in which case any attempted termination is not effective.'”
Medley at *29
The Medley court next tips its hat to the decision in Few, citing the Northern District of Alabama decision for the proposition that where a “plaintiff g[i]ve[s] consent to be called ‘as part of a bargained-for exchange and not merely gratuitously, she was unable to unilaterally revoke that consent'” (Medley at *30) before remarking simply: “This Court agrees.” Id.
The Court goes on to find that “it is black-letter contract law that one party to an agreement cannot, without the other party’s consent, unilaterally modify the agreement once it has been executed” and “[n]othing in the TCPA indicates that contractually-granted consent can be unilaterally revoked in contradiction to black-letter law.” Medley at *30. How sweet is that?
The Medley court also distinguished Gager v. Dell Financial Services, LLC, 727 F.3d 265, 270-71 (3d Cir. 2013), Target National Bank v. Welch, No. 8:15-cv-614-T-36, 2016 WL 1157043 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 24, 2016) and Patterson v. AllyFinancial, Inc., No. 3:16-cv1592- J-32-JBT, 2018 WL 647438 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 31, 2018) as cases involving application consents and opposed to contractual consent provisions. Medley also noted that the consent clause in Patterson did not apply to the type of calls being made in that case, a rather solid basis to distinguish and decline to follow the decision.
The Court also takes issue with the reasoning in Ammons v. Ally Financial, Inc., No. 3:17-cv-00505, 2018 WL 3134619 (M.D. Tenn. June 27, 2018)–refusing to apply Good Reyes despite contractual consent terms in an automotive finance agreement–and declines to follow it. In Medley’s view Ammons over reads Osorio and under analyzes Patterson and Welch.
Accordingly the court concludes that Defendant is entitled to summary judgment and sums up matters succinctly in this clean-as-a-whistle conclusion:
“[T]he Court finds that in the absence of a statement by Congress that the TCPA alters the common-law notion that consent cannot be unilaterally revoked where given as part of a bargained for contract, the Court will decline to do so.”
Medley at *36.
Notably, as was the case in Harris, the contract in Medley did not include a revocation provision and was simply silent on the issue of whether consent could be revoked. As in Harris the Medley court–correctly–interpreted that silence to mean that consent could not be revoked at all.
Since many will ask, Medley was decided by the Hon. Charlene Honeywell who is no stranger to TCPA claimants appearing before her. With Medley she has certainly made her TCPAland mark.
And with Few and Medley working in their favor Defendants seeking to enforce contractual TCPA consent provisions suddenly have a lot to be optimistic about. But this is TCPAland and, in the words of the Grand Duchess, its best to never get too comfortable.