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District Court Rejects Argument That Text Messages Are Prerecorded Voice

A woman is yelling with her cupped hand for additional volume (or possibly just for show)

A district court in California rejected a plaintiff’s argument in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuit that tried to establish a new avenue for text message claims. The plaintiff in Eggleston v. Reward Zone USA LLC had tried to argue that the text messages she received from the defendant violated the TCPA’s restrictions on the use of prerecorded voice calls without consent. The court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, noting that the plaintiff’s claims that text messages constitute “prerecorded voice” messages flatly contradicts both the common sense and dictionary definitions of “voice”: “Plaintiff’s interpretation is simply beyond the bounds of common sense. For one, the primary definition of ‘voice’ in Webster’s dictionary is ‘sound produced by vertebrates by means of lungs, larynx, or syrinx; especially sound so produced by human beings.’”

This case is notable because text messaging remains one of the most widely used communication channels for marketers. And, before the Supreme Court’s decision in Facebook v. Duguid, it was one of the most lucrative channels for plaintiffs pursuing class actions based on automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) violations. But with Facebook making text messaging safer for marketers (outside of Florida), the plaintiffs and litigators have been casting about for new sources of TCPA litigation. Apparently the plaintiff in Eggleston was hoping that a tortured definition of the word “voice” would allow them to substitute prerecorded claims for what formerly would have been ATDS claims. Hopefully any other plaintiffs pursuing these same sorts of claims will rightfully meet similar defeats.