Court Dismisses TCPA Claim in Central District of Illinois for Failing to Plausibly Allege that Agency Used ATDS

With no assertion of fact, e.g., the type of business making the call, to support the proposition that dialing equipment “had the capacity to dial or store randomly or sequentially generated numbers,” the possibility that the equipment might have had that capability fails to be more than speculative and therefore insufficient to support a TCPA claim under federal pleading standards.

7/23/2020 4:00 PM

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Court Dismisses TCPA Claim in Central District of Illinois for Failing to Plausibly Allege that Agency Used ATDS

Central District of Illinois Judge James Shadid has dismissed the consumer’s claim in Mosley v. General Revenue Corp., No. 1:20-cv-01012 (C.D. Ill. July 20, 2020) that a collection agency violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to call her cellphone.

Under federal pleading standards as revised in the Twombly-Iqbal line of cases, allegations in a federal complaint must, “raise the right to relief above the speculative level.” In Mosley, the court found that after the 7th Circuit’s decision in Gadelhak v. AT&T, the definition of an ATDS has narrowed, and the pleading standard for TCPA plaintiffs regarding the use of an ATDS has been restricted accordingly. Now, while a claimant need not have “advanced technical knowledge” regarding the device used to make the allegedly offending calls, “there still must be some basis in the pleading which raises the ATDS claim from speculative to plausible.”

In that vein, Judge Shadid agreed with defendant General Revenue Corporation that, “[i]t is not plausible to conclude that a company seeking to collect debts (as Mosley alleges GRC to be) would use a system that randomly and sequentially generates phone numbers.” And, indeed, Mosley’s complaint “offer[ed] no plausible explanation why a debt collection company would need or use a machine with the capacity to dial randomly or sequentially generated numbers,” given that a collection agency has specific numbers (i.e., its client’s customers) in mind when making calls. (Conversely, the court wrote, other businesses, e.g., telemarketers, would plausibly have the need to use such random or sequential dialing.)

While the decision in Mosley represents a positive—if not entirely unexpected—development in the 7th Circuit in the wake of Gadelhak, it remains to be seen whether this type of dismissal based on failure to satisfy federal pleading standards becomes a trend there—or, for that matter, in the 11th Circuit, which (in Glasser/Evans) interpreted the TCPA’s definition of an ATDS along the same lines at the 7th Circuit.

Related content from ACA International:

Are We Getting Closer to Solving the Autodialer Disagreement?

Another District Court Adopts Narrow Statutory Definition of ATDS

For more information on how the ACA Licensing staff can assist with your licensing needs, please contact us at Licensing@acainternational.org or call (952) 926-6547.


Follow ACA International on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector, Facebook and request to join our LinkedIn group for news and event updates. ACA International members are welcome to submit news items for possible publication to comm@acainternational.org. Visit our publications page for news submission guidelines and subscriptions to ACA Daily, Collector magazine and Pulse.

Advertising is available for companies wishing to promote their products or services. Be sure to visit the ACA Events Calendar on the Education and Training page to view our listing of upcoming CORE Curriculum and Hot Topic seminars featuring critical educational opportunities for your company.


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Court Dismisses TCPA Claim in Central District of Illinois for Failing to Plausibly Allege that Agency Used ATDS

Central District of Illinois Judge James Shadid has dismissed the consumer’s claim in Mosley v. General Revenue Corp., No. 1:20-cv-01012 (C.D. Ill. July 20, 2020) that a collection agency violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to call her cellphone.

Under federal pleading standards as revised in the Twombly-Iqbal line of cases, allegations in a federal complaint must, “raise the right to relief above the speculative level.” In Mosley, the court found that after the 7th Circuit’s decision in Gadelhak v. AT&T, the definition of an ATDS has narrowed, and the pleading standard for TCPA plaintiffs regarding the use of an ATDS has been restricted accordingly. Now, while a claimant need not have “advanced technical knowledge” regarding the device used to make the allegedly offending calls, “there still must be some basis in the pleading which raises the ATDS claim from speculative to plausible.”

In that vein, Judge Shadid agreed with defendant General Revenue Corporation that, “[i]t is not plausible to conclude that a company seeking to collect debts (as Mosley alleges GRC to be) would use a system that randomly and sequentially generates phone numbers.” And, indeed, Mosley’s complaint “offer[ed] no plausible explanation why a debt collection company would need or use a machine with the capacity to dial randomly or sequentially generated numbers,” given that a collection agency has specific numbers (i.e., its client’s customers) in mind when making calls. (Conversely, the court wrote, other businesses, e.g., telemarketers, would plausibly have the need to use such random or sequential dialing.)

While the decision in Mosley represents a positive—if not entirely unexpected—development in the 7th Circuit in the wake of Gadelhak, it remains to be seen whether this type of dismissal based on failure to satisfy federal pleading standards becomes a trend there—or, for that matter, in the 11th Circuit, which (in Glasser/Evans) interpreted the TCPA’s definition of an ATDS along the same lines at the 7th Circuit.

Related content from ACA International:

Are We Getting Closer to Solving the Autodialer Disagreement?

Another District Court Adopts Narrow Statutory Definition of ATDS

For more information on how the ACA Licensing staff can assist with your licensing needs, please contact us at Licensing@acainternational.org or call (952) 926-6547.


Follow ACA International on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector, Facebook and request to join our LinkedIn group for news and event updates. ACA International members are welcome to submit news items for possible publication to comm@acainternational.org. Visit our publications page for news submission guidelines and subscriptions to ACA Daily, Collector magazine and Pulse.

Advertising is available for companies wishing to promote their products or services. Be sure to visit the ACA Events Calendar on the Education and Training page to view our listing of upcoming CORE Curriculum and Hot Topic seminars featuring critical educational opportunities for your company.


Subscribe to ACA Daily NEWSROOM

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