Supreme Court says telemarketing cases eligible for federal courts

Michael P. Tremoglie Jan. 19, 2012, 7:40am

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court says lawsuits by private persons for violation of the "Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA)" can be heard in federal courts.

The Jan. 18 ruling reversed one by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Mims v Arrow Finanical Services LLC.

The TCPA prohibits cer­tain invasive telemarketing practices and authorizes regulation by the Federal Com­munications Commission (FCC). It also directs States to bring civil actions to stop the prohibited practices and recover damages on their residents' behalf. The jurisdiction over these state-initiated suits lies exclusively in the U. S. district courts, The TCPA also permits a private person to seek redress for viola­tions "in an appropriate court of [a] State," "if [such an action is] otherwise permitted by the laws or rules of court of [that] State."

The Eleventh Circuit dismissed Mims's actions because of sub­ject-matter jurisdiction. It concluded that the TCPA said only state courts juris­diction over private actions.

The USSC held that "the TCPA's permissive grant of jurisdiction to state courts does not deprive the U. S. district courts of federal-question jurisdiction over private TCPA suits."

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