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THE SIXTH CIRCUIT JOINS NINTH AND SECOND CIRCUITS IN BROADLY INTERPRETING THE TCPA’S DEFINITION OF AN AUTO DIALER

July 30, 2020

In an opinion released on Tuesday, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the Western District of Michigan’s decision in Allan v. Pa. Higher Ed. Assist. Agency. Case No. 19-2043 (6th Cir. 2020), which applied the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (“TCPA”) ban on automatic telephone dialing systems (“ATDS”) to all devices that send automatic phone calls or text messages. The Sixth Circuit held, “We hold that the plain text of § 227, read in its entirety, makes clear that devices that dial from a stored list of numbers are subject to the autodialer ban.”

The Sixth Circuit’s decision adds to the already-existing circuit split on the issue of what ATDS actually means under the TCPA. Currently, the Seventh and Eleventh Circuits narrowly interpret ATDS to specifically mean a device that sends messages or make calls randomly and devices that sequentially generate phone numbers. In contrast, the Second and Ninth Circuits interpret ATDS to include all devices with the capacity to store and automatically dial numbers. As a result of this circuit split, the Supreme Court is poised to make a decision on this issue after granting certiorari in Duguid v Facebook earlier this month. The Sixth Circuit now joins the Second and Ninth Circuit in their broad and consumer-friendly interpretation of the definition of ATDS.

The decision in the Sixth Circuit marks an important victory for consumers. Prior to this decision, the narrow interpretation approach of the Seventh and Eleventh Circuit was clearly the majority interpretation. Now, the split seems to be more even, serving to further build the anticipation for the Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision on the issue.

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THE SIXTH CIRCUIT JOINS NINTH AND SECOND CIRCUITS IN BROADLY INTERPRETING THE TCPA’S DEFINITION OF AN AUTO DIALER

LET US HELP YOU