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Automated Calls

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We’re all too familiar with the calls to our cell phones from automated systems telling us about a vacation we won or how we can lower our credit card debt. But what you may not know is that those calls may be illegal. In Susinno v. Work Out World Inc., Susinno alleged that she received an unsolicited call on her cell phone from Work Out World Inc. (“WOW”). She did not answer the call, so WOW left a prerecorded promotional offer that lasted one minute on her voicemail. Susinno filed a complaint in the District Court of NJ claiming that the call and message violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) which prohibits prerecorded calls to cell phones. The District Court dismissed the case for lack of standing, but the Third Circuit reversed the decision on appeal.

The Third Circuit held that the TCPA prohibition on calls using automatic dialing systems is not limited to situations where the called party is charged for the call, and that Susinno alleged concrete intangible injury as would support standing. Basing its decision on Spokeo, the Third Circuit reasoned that the types of calls the statute is meant to prevent are a nuisance and an invasion of privacy. The court also reasoned that TCPA claims closely related to traditional claims for invasion of privacy, intrusion upon seclusion, and nuisance, which have long been heard by American courts. Ultimately, the court held that Susinno has a cause of action under the TCPA, and she alleged a concrete, intangible harm under the Supreme Court’s decision in Spokeo.

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