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Court Dismisses Lawsuit by Serial Litigant Against TCPA Litigator List

With its potential for lucrative statutory damages, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) attracts serial litigants like moths to a flame.  In response, some businesses are trying to help callers avoid calling numbers associated with serial litigants by providing serial litigator lists.

Blindbid, Inc., operating as TCPA Litigator List, is one such company that notifies callers about serial litigants that file lawsuits under consumer protection statutes, in particular under the TCPA.

In November 2018, BlindBid Inc. posted the following on Twitter: “James Shelton out of Pennsylvania is one of the most aggressive TCPA litigators.  He has even frozen bank accounts.  Do not call him.”

In response to this alert, Mr. Shelton demanded that Blinbid provide him with a copy of his consumer report, and that Blindbid identify each person or company that obtained his consumer report from Blindbid.  Blindbid refused both requests. Wonder what happened next?  Mr. Shelton sued BlindBid for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act.

Yes, this actually happened:  A  person who really doesn’t like getting robocalls just sued a company that literally helps callers avoid calling people who really don’t like getting robocalls. 

However, the court in Shelton v. Blindbid Inc., No. 1:19CV1205, 2019 WL 4451376 (N.D. Ohio Sept. 17, 2019) recently dismissed Mr. Shelton’s claims based upon a lack of Article III standing to sue.  Relying on Spokeo v. Robbins, 136 S. Ct. 1540, the Court found that Plaintiff’s allegation that he suffered actual damages as a result of BlindBid’s alleged refusal to acquiesce to Mr. Shelton’s demands for his consumer report “f[ell] below the necessary threshold for Article III standing.”  Moreover, the court stated that Plaintiff’s allegation that his reputation was damaged, and that he was injured by an invasion of privacy are not causally related to the alleged violations of FCRA.  Specifically, not providing the documents requested by Plaintiff “did not injure Plaintiff’s reputation nor intrude upon his privacy.”  Based upon its finding of a lack of standing, the court granted Blindbid’s Motion to Dismiss as to Mr. Shelton’s FCRA claim and remanded the remaining Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act back to state court. 

Known litigator lists provide helpful tools for callers to avoid becoming ensnared in a serial litigant’s TCPA lawsuit.  It is the opinion of the authors that the fact businesses like BlindBid are being sued for warning callers not to call these individuals probably means they’re doing something right. 

Copyright © 2020 Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 267

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About this Author

Artin Betpera, Class action litigation lawyer, Womble
Partner

Artin is a partner in the firm’s business litigation practice group.  Precise and analytic, Artin brings over a decade of experience to bear on complex litigation problems.

Artin adeptly manages significant volumes of litigation for some of the country’s largest banks and financial institutions, never losing sight of providing an exceptional level of service to his clients.  He has been a dedicated financial services litigator since starting the practice of law at ground-zero of the financial crisis, affording him with an unparalleled depth of...

657.266.1051
Nicole Su, Womble Dickinson, Business litigation lawyer
Associate

Nicole focuses her business litigation practice on commercial and financial services cases, with a particular emphasis on Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). She is part of a nationally-recognized team that is at the forefront of the TCPA space.  Along with the team, Nicole brings the experience and capability to vigorously defend financial institutions in TCPA actions nationwide. 

Nicole is dedicated to achieving cutting-edge results for her clients.  She uses her in-depth knowledge of the TCPA to come up with creative solutions for difficult problems.

657.266.1046