On August 21, 2015, the 11th Circuit upheld the dismissal of a class action against DCI Biologicals, Inc. (DCI) for its alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). DCI is a blood plasma collection center, and a blood plasma donor, Joseph Murphy, alleged that DCI sent him unsolicited text messages using an autodialer. However, the Court found that by providing his cell phone number on the donor information form, he provided prior express consent. The Court said,
Under [the TCPA], and the FCC’s interpretation of the prior express consent, Mr. Murphy’s provision of his cell phone number constituted his express consent to be contacted by DCI at that number.
Perhaps an important factor in this determination was that the form did not ask for a cell phone number and did not require a phone number in order for Mr. Murphy to donate blood plasma. Mr. Murphy voluntarily provided his cell phone number to DCI and DCI’s first text message to Mr. Murphy said
You will receive MMS messages from DCI Biologicals on short code 76000. Reply STOP to 99000 to cancel.
Mr. Murphy never replied and supplied his own cell phone number directly to DCI himself.
At the same time, the 6th Circuit ruled in favor of mortgage debt collector, Homeward Residential Inc. (Homeward), stating that a debtor who provides a cell phone number to a creditor has consented to receiving telemarketing calls. Even though Homeward had called plaintiff, Stephen M. Hill, over 500 times, the court determined that “a debtor consents to calls about ‘an existing debt’ when he gives his number ‘in connection with’ that debt.” This is a big step forward for companies who face class actions for alleged TCPA violations.