By Michael Mitchell

Today, in Lynn v. Monarch Recovery Management, Inc., the Fourth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment granted to Kevin Lynn for Monarch Recovery Management’s violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).   On appeal, the Court rejected Monarch’s argument that it was exempt from the TCPA as a debt collector.

Under 47 U.S.C. § 227, the TCPA prohibits “making any call . . . [using] an artificial or prerecorded voice . . . to any telephone number assigned to a . . . cellular telephone service . . . or any service for which the called party is charged for the call.”   The United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore, found that Monarch’s calls to Lynn violated the TCPA because Lynn was individually charged for each call.  Monarch made these calls to Lynn in its capacity as a debt collection company.

Affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Lynn in an unpublished per curiam decision, the Fourth Circuit rejected Monarch’s attempt to avoid liability under the call-charged provision of the TCPA.  Specifically, Monarch argued that the FCC’s regulation excepted debt collectors from the TCPA’s prohibition on “call[s] to any residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver a message.”

The Court relied on its review of legislative intent in denying Monarch’s assertion that it was exempt from the call-charged provision of the TCPA.  Citing Clodfelter v. Republic of Sudan, 720 F.3d 199, the Court held that Congress did not intend for companies like Monarch to use the TCPA to limit their liability.  Thus, the Fourth Circuit has maintained civil liability for debt collectors under the call-charged provision of the TCPA.

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