May 23, 2022

Volume XII, Number 143

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May 23, 2022

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Government Speech?: Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier Personally Sued in Robocall Class Action for Townhall Announcement

Well 2022 is brand new and there are already some really interesting robocall class actions out there.

In a new filing yesterday in federal Court in Northern California, consumer Clyde Cheng is suing his own congresswoman–Rep. Jackie Speier (D.)–for alleging sending prerecorded calls announcing townhalls to his cell phone without his consent.

Specifically Mr. Cheng alleges:

Rep. Speier placed calls playing her prerecorded voice to invite people to virtual town halls…. Ms. Speier included instructions on how to participate in a town hall, but did not include instructions to stop future calls. Plaintiff was unable to remove himself.

Notably Mr. Cheng attempts to use Congresswoman Speier’s own Twitter posts against her–he asserts that “Congresswoman Speier herself recognizes the importance of strong laws prohibiting robocalls. On April 17, 2019, she Tweeted: “It’s clear [that] the Do Not Call Registry has failed to solve the problem of harassing robocalls & Congress can no longer wait for the FCC or telephone companies to take the necessary action. I urge the House & Senate to swiftly take up & pass the ROBOCOP Act.”

The Plaintiff seeks to represent two classes:

TCPA Class. All persons in the United States who: (1) from the last 4 years to
present (2) Defendant called (3) on his or her cellular telephone;
Injunctive Relief Class. All persons in California who: (1) from the last 4 years
to present (2) Defendant called (3) on his or her telephone;

The FCC was repeatedly held that messages by federal government officials for official purposes are NOT subject to restrictions under federal law. Members of Congress also enjoy certain forms of immunity for official actions. So it is not clear that this case will ever make it off the ground. (The rules are different for campaign messages–which are definitely subject to federal anti-robocall statutes like the TCPA and have ensnared campaigns on both sides of the aisle).

It is also interesting that the lawsuit essentially asks one branch of the government–the judiciary–to silence (via injunction!) another branch of the government–the legislative.

Really fascinating stuff.

I predict a quick dismissal here.

Complaint: Cheng complaint

We’ll keep an eye on this one.

© 2022 Troutman FirmNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 7
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About this Author

Eric Troutman TCPA Lawyer Troutman Law Firm Orange County, CA
Founder

Eric J Troutman is known as one of the country’s prominent class action defense lawyers and is nationally recognized in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigation and compliance. He has served as lead defense counsel in more than 70 national TCPA class actions and has litigated nearly a thousand individual TCPA cases in his role as national strategic litigation counsel for major banks and finance companies. Eric also helps industry participants build TCPA-compliant processes, policies, and systems.

Eric's perspective allows him to...

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