On May 29, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte tossed out a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) claim against AOL, Inc. (AOL) because he found that the TCPA regulations did not apply to the messages received by the plaintiff.
Plaintiff, Nicholas Derby, filed his complaint back in February 2014, alleging that an unnamed individual accidently sent him three text messages through AOL instant messenger, which he believed constituted an automated telephone dialing system message, which is prohibited by the TCPA without first obtaining consent. Derby also claimed that AOL violated the TCPA because the company sent him an automated reply to a text message it received from Derby requesting that the user who was erroneously texting him be blocked from messaging Derby. Derby was seeking an injunction and $500 per violation. However, Judge Whyte said in his opinion, “As to the initial three texts, there was sufficient human intervention to remove them from the scope of TCPA liability. Second, the TCPA does not impose liability for confirmation texts like those alleged in the complaint.” This is a success not only for AOL but for other companies whose services involve human interaction and automated text message replies to consumer text messages.