Justia Communications Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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Receiving a single unsolicited text message, sent in violation of a federal statute, is not a concrete injury in fact that establishes standing to sue in federal court. Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) after he received unsolicited text messages from defendant's law firm. The court found that the history and the judgment of Congress did not support a finding of concrete injury in plaintiff's allegations. In this case, plaintiff's allegations of a brief, inconsequential annoyance were categorically distinct from those kinds of real but intangible harms. The court noted that its assessment was qualitative, not quantitative. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss without prejudice the amended complaint. View "Salcedo v. Hanna" on Justia Law

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Hotels filed suit against Safemark on behalf of a putative class, alleging that faxes sent to franchisees violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it unlawful to send certain unsolicited fax advertisements. The district court denied certification and held that the solicited-fax rule, a regulation of the FCC that required solicited faxes to include compliant opt-out notices, was invalid. The district court subsequently granted summary judgment to Safemark. While the appeals were pending, the Commission eliminated the solicited-fax rule in light of the DC Circuit's decision that the rule is invalid. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err when it ruled that the faxes were solicited because the hotels gave their prior express permission to receive faxes from Safemark. Furthermore, because the Commission eliminated the solicited-fax rule during the pendency of his consolidated appeal, Safemark's faxes need not have contained opt-out notices. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment for Safemark. View "Gorss Motels, Inc. v. Safemark Systems, LP" on Justia Law

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Verizon filed suit challenging the Board's denial of its application for a special use permit to construct a cellular communications tower. The district court dismissed the action as time-barred under the thirty-day limitations period of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA). The Eleventh Circuit reversed, holding that the Board's action became final not when the Clerk entered a document in the Ordinances and Resolutions books, as the district court found, but when the Board approved the minutes of the meeting at which it voted on Verizon's application. The court reasoned that only when an applicant receives sufficient notice does the decision become "final," and only then can the thirty-day clock begin to run. In this case, the minutes, created pursuant to published statute, provided the notice that due process and the Supreme Court's interpretation of the TCA required. View "Athens Cellular, Inc. v. Oconee County, Georgia" on Justia Law

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Former Coach of the Miami Dolphins, James Turner, filed suit against defendants, alleging defamation claims under Florida law related to defendants' publication of a report, which concluded that bullying by other Dolphins players contributed to Jonathan Martin's decision to leave the team. The Eleventh Circuit held that none of the challenged statements contained in the report were actionable for defamation; no alleged omission or juxtaposition of facts in the report stated a claim for defamation by implication; and Turner was a public figure who failed to adequately plead that defendants acted with malice in drafting and publishing the report. View "Turner v. Wells, Jr." on Justia Law

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The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227 et seq., permits a consumer to partially revoke her consent to be called by means of an automatic telephone dialing system. The Eleventh Circuit thought it logical that a consumer's power under the TCPA to completely withdraw consent and thereby stop all future automated calls encompasses the power to partially withdraw consent and stop calls during certain times. In this case, the court held that summary judgment was inappropriate because a reasonable jury could find that plaintiff partially revoked her consent to be called in "the morning" and "during the workday" on the October 13 phone call with a Comenity employee. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Schweitzer v. Comenity Bank" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether an order form faxed to a doctor by a company that supplies a medical product purchased by that doctor's patient constitutes an "unsolicited advertisement" within the meaning of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227(a)(5). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, agreeing with the district court that faxes were not "unsolicited advertisements." The court held that the faxes in this case did not promote the sale of Arriva products and thus they were not unsolicited advertisements. In this case, each fax related to a specific order already placed by a patient of the clinic and requested only that the doctor of the patient fill out an order form to facilitate a purchase made by the patient. View "The Florence Endocrine Clinic v. Arriva Medical" on Justia Law