PHILADELPHIA – For the second time, a Pennsylvania federal judge has ruled for Yahoo! in a lawsuit that seeks to penalize the company for thousands of email notifications. And again, the plaintiff is appealing.
On Jan. 27, Judge Michael Baylson granted summary judgment to Yahoo! for a second time. His first ruling was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Dominguez recently filed another appeal to the Third Circuit. He is represented by Francis
& Mailman attorneys David A.
Searles, Geoffrey H. Baskerville, John Soumilas, Mark D. Mailman, Lauren K.W.
Brennan and James A. Francis.
Francis declined to comment in detail on the rulings of the
case. He is seeking to impose penalties on each of the more than 27,000 texts his client received.
“The plaintiff has appealed, and therefore we do not think
that any further comments are appropriate,” he told the Pennsylvania Record.
The Dominguez v. Yahoo! Inc. case has been going on for years
after Bill Dominguez took legal action against Yahoo! in the U.S. District
Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He accused the company of
sending unsolicited text messages to his cell phone, allegedly violating
the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
The texts were converted emails.
Yahoo! said it didn’t actually break any regulations when sending
Dominguez the messages because the rule only counts when they are sent using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS). The telecommunications company said
it didn’t use this method to send the texts to the Plaintiff.
Baylson agreed, but the Third Circuit overruled. It told Baylson to “address more fully in the first instance whether Yahoo!’s equipment meets the statutory definition.”
Yahoo! contends that its system is not an ATDS because the system lacks the "capacity" to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator.
Baylson considered 2015 Federal Communications Commission rule that impacted the term "capacity."
Baylson wrote in his recent opinion that it’s unclear what category this FCC regulation falls under and mentioned his "dismay that the majority of FCC Commissioners
would have issued it without any characterization – thus, infecting numerous
district court judges with the disease of uncertainty … resembling a ‘mongrel’ –
with no offense to dogs.”
Yahoo! is represented by Brian T. Feeney, Lori Chang, Wendy
Mantell and Ian C. Ballon of Greenberg Traurig which has offices in
Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
Yahoo! spokesperson Suzanne Philion did comment on the case.
“We’re pleased that the court in the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania entered judgment in our favor.”
The company emphasized that it did not violate any
regulations when it comes to contacting consumers.
“[The Court held] that our email-to-text alert system did not
constitute an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) within the meaning of
the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.”
Dominguez said Yahoo sent him 27,809 text messages after he
bought a cell phone but used the same number as its previous owner, the Pennsylvania
Record reported previously.