Court Reconsiders Decision, Finds No Ambiguity in ATDS Definition, Grants Summary Judgment to Defendant

Late last week, a District Court in the Northern District of Illinois reconsidered a ruling it made back in 2014 denying Yahoo!’s summary judgment motion, and granted the motion in light of ACA Int’l.  Johnson v. Yahoo!, Inc., No. 14-cv-02028 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 29, 2018). Notably, this is now the second court outside the Ninth Circuit to expressly refuse to follow Marks on the basis there’s no ambiguity in the statutory definition of ATDS.

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Back in 2014, the court in Johnson had reluctantly followed the FCC’s 2003, 2008, and 2012 rulings that interpreted ATDS “to include systems that dialed numbers pulled from a stored list without human intervention,” and denied Yahoo!’s MSJ as a result. At that time, the court “didn’t agree” with the FCC’s “expansive interpretation,” of the statutory definition of the ATDS, but applied it because it was bound to do so under Seventh Circuit precedent (holding that FCC rulings are binding under the Hobbs Act). Notably though, the court gave a hat-tip to the PDR case and recognized that this might change given the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari to determine the binding effect of FCC rulings under the Hobbs Act.

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