October 24, 2019

Court Examines “Professional Plaintiff” Status in TCPA Suit

When a Massachusetts District Court examined whether and when a professional plaintiff has standing to assert TCPA claims, the Court determined that a plaintiff’s standing comes down to how said plaintiff uses a given phone line. In the case of Rhodes v. Liberty Power Holdings, LLC, the Court examined Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) claims by two class representatives.

One representative, Samuel Katz, qualifies as a professional plaintiff due to his status as a “frequent litigant in TCPA cases” who “closely tracks the telemarketing calls he receives.” Katz, who has filed at least nine TCPA lawsuits, alleges that he received 13 automated calls to a “residential landlines that he maintained for emergencies.”

Professional Plaintiff Debate

Defendants in the Case moved for summary judgment, arguing that Katz “proactively embraces telemarketing calls and simply makes money from the statute,” which means Katz does not fall within the zone of interests protected by the TCPA.

However, the Court determined that“[a]lthough telemarketing calls may not truly be a scourge for Mr. Katz, who has turned the calls into a financial opportunity, the issue of Mr. Katz’s standing boils down to whether he maintained the number [at-issue] … for any purpose other than attracting telemarketing calls to support his TCPA lawsuits.” The Court then found that the phone line in question was not maintained solely for the purpose of filing TCPA lawsuits.

The reasoning in the court’s decision came from the ruling in Stoops v. Wells Fargo Bank, where the court found that a professional plaintiff did not have standing because the plaintiff’s “only purpose in using her cell phones is to file TCPA lawsuits.” In this case, Katz was found to have standing due to meeting the “low bar” of using his landline for other purposes.

Learn more about how you can protect your organization from costly TCPA fines and penalties.