January 18, 2022

Volume XII, Number 18

Advertisement
Advertisement

January 15, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis
Advertisement

District Court Rules “Direct Drop” Voicemails Subject to TCPA

Last month, a Michigan federal district court judge denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment regarding application of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) to “direct drop” voicemail messages (also known as “ringless voicemail”).  Emphasizing the “broad net” cast by the TCPA, Judge Gordon J. Quist of the Western District of Michigan held that such messages constitute “calls” under the statute.

Plaintiff Karen Saunders alleged that defendant Dyck O’Neal, Inc., made repeated debt collection calls to her over the course of a year.  In addition to these calls, defendant left approximately 30 direct drop voicemails on plaintiff’s mobile phone.  Dyck O’Neal argued that these voicemails did not fall within the scope of the statute, as its service provider, VoApp, did not dial Saunders’ cell phone number to leave the message, but instead, through alternate technology, placed the message directly on a voicemail service.  The court rejected this argument, finding that “by leaving a voicemail directly with the server space associated with Saunders’ phone, Dyck O’Neal was attempting to communicate with Saunders via her phone—which is the definition applied to the TCPA’s use of ‘call.’”

The service provider in Saunders filed a petition for declaratory ruling with the Commission in 2014, arguing that its service should not be covered by the TCPA.  Last year, All About the Message, LLC, another service provider, again sought a declaratory ruling, although it later withdrew its petition.  The FCC has not yet spoken on this issue.

© 2022 Covington & Burling LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 214
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

Hannah Lepow, Covington, data and cybersecurity lawyer
Associate

Hannah Lepow advises clients in the media, technology, and telecommunications industries on a wide range of regulatory and privacy issues.

Ms. Lepow is a member of the New York bar. She is currently not admitted in the District of Columbia, but is supervised by principals of the firm.

  • Advises multinational companies on compliance with various privacy laws.

  • Advises print, broadcast, and digital news organizations on First Amendment and media law issues.

  • ...
202 662 5477
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement