Login Register Subscribe
Current Issue

Court reinstates TCPA suit in case of 300 debt collection calls

Reprints

A federal appeals court has reinstated a Telephone Consumer Protection Act lawsuit filed by a woman who received nearly 300 calls from banks seeking payment of a debt.

Elisa Romero had filed suit against Department Stores National Bank, a unit of New York-based Citigroup Inc., and Mason, Ohio-based FDS bank on charges including violation of the TCPA, according to Wednesday’s ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in Elisa R. Romero v. Department Stores National Bank; FDS Bank; Does 1 through 10.

Her claims arose out of nearly 300 autodialed calls the banks placed to Ms. Romero’s cellphone regarding a debt she conceded she owed, said the ruling. While Ms. Romero did not dispute she had provided the banks with her cellphone number, she sought compensation for calls made after July 2014, when she said she first asked the banks to stop calling.

The U.S. District Court in San Diego dismissed her case, which a three-judge appeals court panel unanimously reinstated. The ruling said the District Court did not have the benefit in its 2016 ruling of the 9th Circuit’s 2017 decision in another case in which it held that “A violation of the TCPA is a concrete, de facto injury.”

“Romero has shown that this concrete harm is fairly traceable to the Banks’ challenged conduct,” said the ruling.

“The TCPA is not limited to telemarketing calls,” the ruling also said.  “Congress recognized unsolicited contact as a concrete harm regardless of caller or content, and this harm is similar in kind to harm that has traditionally been redressable by courts,” it said.

“Disputes regarding whether Romero gave prior express consent to receive calls from the Banks or revoked that consent go to the merits of her TCPA claim, not to her standing,” said the ruling.

The panel also said the District Court erred in granting the banks summary judgment on Ms. Romero’s claim she had violated California’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and her “intrusion upon seclusion” claim. The case was remanded for further proceedings.