On July 16, 2018 in the case Saunders v. Dyck O’Neal, Michigan District Judge Gordon J. Quist ruled that RVMs (ringless voice messages) are subject TCPA litigation. This is significant because RVMs are a relatively new technology and this is the first court ruling in a TCPA case involving them which establishes a new precedent.
For several years, RVMs have existed in a legal gray area: neither specifically included or excluded from TCPA regulations. In the past this has led companies such as All About the Message, LLC and VoApps (who provides RVM services) to petition the FCC to declare RVMs exempt from TCPA litigation. Ultimately both petitions were dropped prior to any ruling being declared.
In the case of Saunders v. Dyck O’Neal, the defendant utilized VoApps to leave 30 RVMs over the course of one year with regards to an outstanding debt. The defendant argued that RVMs should not be considered “calls,” but Judge Quist determined otherwise, going as far to suggest that any other interpretation would be “absurd.”
What does this mean for businesses currently using RVMs or considering adopting them? Manatt, a multi-disciplinary firm that provides TCPA litigation and class action defense services, notes in their blog that “because RVMs are not ostensibly connected to any common carrier “call,” Judge Quist’s decision could be vulnerable to review. In the meantime, we expect competing views on this issue from other courts. Companies would be well-advised to ensure that they have proper consent under the TCPA when using RVM technology until there is further clarity on whether the technology will be covered by the TCPA.”
This is one more reason to document proof of consent to guard against TCPA litigation. If you are interested in protecting your business from class action lawsuits, read our post on Building a Bulletproof TCPA Compliance Stack.