Judge permits text lawsuit to proceed under Telephone Consumer Protection Act

By Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro | May 9, 2017

MIAMI (Legal Newsline) – A plaintiff's lawsuit seeking damages for an alleged violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) not only has a legitimate claim, but it may proceed as a class action, a judge ruled on March 22.

Ray Mohamed is suing Off Lease Only Inc. for damages and an injunction because after he posted a Craigslist advertisement selling his car, the dealership allegedly sent him text messages on his smartphone. He alleges his ad specifically requested that third parties and solicitors not call or text him for any reason. 

Mohamed’s lawsuit cited unsolicited texts were made without his consent and violated the TCPA.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, of the Southern District of Florida, requested an inquiry to see if Mohamed had any legal standing to proceed with his complaint. According to court documents, she sought to establish if the claim met Article III standing, which requires a plaintiff suffer proof of injury-in-fact and that it is a provable claim tied to the defendant. 

Under the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Spokeo Inc. v. Robins, Mohamed had to show he suffered an invasion of privacy that was “concrete and particularized.” Case law acknowledges that sometimes, “an intangible harm (can be) concrete.” The argument has been made too, that the very act of invading one’s privacy is a right that violates statutory law and can be considered harm enough to warrant a lawsuit.

When Mohamed received the text message allegedly without his verbal or written consent, it affected him in a very intimate and specific way, Cooke ruled. Further, the injury (especially after he specifically asked not to be contacted), was substantial enough to violate his rights under the TCPA, Cook ruled. 

Cooke concluded that Mohamed’s injuries were concrete, “even if construed as intangible harms.”

U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida Court Case number 15-23352-Civ-Cooke/Torres

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