|January 31, 2012|
Previously published on January 19, 2012
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a lawsuit filed alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) could be heard in Federal court. The decision overturns rulings by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and the 11th Circuit, which held that TCPA cases should be tried exclusively in state courts. The ruling also goes against similar rulings in the Second, Third, Fourth and Ninth Circuits.
TCPA cases traditionally have been tried in state courts because the language of the Act calls for cases brought under the law to be tried in an appropriate state court if bringing such an action is otherwise permitted under that state’s laws. Interestingly, the Mims case is not a class action, as is frequently the case with TCPA suits. It is, at best, unclear what effect of the Supreme Court’s decision will have on the filing of future TCPA class actions.
"Beyond doubt, the TCPA is a federal law that both creates the claim [the plaintiff] has brought and supplies the substantive rules that will govern the case," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the Supreme Court’s decision. "We find no convincing reason to read into the TCPA's permissive grant of jurisdiction to state courts any barrier to the U.S. district courts' exercise of the general federal-question jurisdiction they have possessed since 1875."
The case will now return to the 11th Circuit.