TCPA plaintiff loses lawsuit after failing to assert claim

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Hello TCPAWorld and Happy Halloween! The Baroness here. Back to deliver the latest and greatest from TCPA.

But first, let’s talk about opening our new office in Florida and adding Jenniffer to the company. The Troutman company is so excited to grow and it’s only been 6 months!? I can’t wait to see the growth we will have in a year.

Now back to the news.

I have a very simple case for you all.

A bit of background – Defendant Capital Link Management, LLC purchased a debt that Plaintiff Ronald Ingraham owed on a loan from a company called Green Gate Services, LLC. Capital Link knew the debt was unenforceable and illegal because it came from an unlicensed online lender who had issued loans at interest rates over 600% that were not enforceable against Florida residents. To request payment of the debt, Capital Link contacted Ronald at least 5 times.

Ronald sued Capital Link alleging, among other things, violations of the TCPA.

Facts you need to know – Capital Link was correctly served by a registered agent but lack to respond to the complaint. As a result, the clerk entered default judgment against Capital Link and Ronald filed a motion for final default judgment, seeking damages and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2), a court is permitted to enter default judgment against a defendant who does not plead or defend. But, “before granting default judgment for damages, the district court must satisfy itself that the well-founded allegations in the complaint, which are believed to be true by reason of the default, actually state a substantial cause of action. and that there is substantial cause, a sufficient basis in the pleadings for the particular relief sought”. Tyco Fire & Sec., LLC vs. Alcocer, 218 F. App’x 860, 863 (11th Cir. 2007). In other words, “a default judgment cannot take into account a complaint which does not state a claim”. Chudasama vs. Mazda Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1370 n.41 (11th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted).

The Court found that the complaint does not sufficiently allege a violation of the TCPA and, therefore, the default judgment was not appropriate for Ronald’s claims arising from the TCPA—certainly a win for Capital Link!

Here’s why.

Under the TCPA, it is “unlawful…to make a call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system Where an artificial or pre-recorded voice…to any telephone number…, unless this call is made solely to collect a debt owed or guaranteed by the United States. 47 USC § 227(b)(1)(A)(iii).

Ronald’s complaint, however, did not establish facts to support a claim that the calls were made using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or pre-recorded voice. As such, the Court denied in part Plaintiff’s motion for final judgment by default with respect to its TCPA claim.

The reasoning of the Court seems logical to me.

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