A TCPA Violation Confers Standing Under Spokeo in the 3rd CircuitOn July 10, 2017 by Schnader in schnaderfsb.com
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has concluded that an alleged violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act creates a sufficiently concrete injury to give a plaintiff standing to sue under Spokeo, Inc. v. Robbins.
The U.S. Supreme Court held last year in Spokeo that while a violation of a statutory right does not by itself constitute a concrete injury for purposes of Article III standing, Congress nevertheless can by statute elevate an intangible harm “to the status of a legally cognizable injury” where the “intangible harm has a close relationship to a harm that has traditionally been regarded as providing a basis for a lawsuit in English or American courts.”
The Third Circuit applied this principle to the TCPA in Susinno v. Work Out World Inc. The plaintiff alleged that she received an unsolicited call on her cell phone from a fitness company, and the company left a one minute prerecorded voicemail message when she did not answer. She was not charged for the call.
The Third Circuit held, first, that that these allegations were sufficient to state a claim for a violation of the TCPA, and second, that the plaintiff had standing to bring the claim under Spokeo. The court explained that “when one sues under a statute alleging the very injury the statute is intended to prevent, and the injury has a close relationship to a harm traditionally providing a basis for a lawsuit in English and American courts, a concrete injury has been pleaded.”
The court found that both of these requirements were met on the plaintiff’s allegations. The alleged “nuisance and invasion of privacy” resulting from a single unsolicited cell phone call and prerecorded voicemail message were “the very harm Congress sought to prevent” under the TCPA, and bore a close relationship to claims for invasion of privacy and “intrusion upon seclusion” that traditionally have been protected under the common law.