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Northern District of Texas Determines That Predictive Dialers Are Not An ATDS

On Tuesday, July 30th, 2019, the Northern District of Texas determined, in Adams v. Safe Home Security, Inc., that predictive dialers are not necessarily classified as an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS). Rejecting last year's Ninth Circuit decision in Marks v. San Diego Crunch, the court read the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) such that a predictive dialer should only be considered an ATDS if it automatically dials numbers that are stored sequentially or randomly generated.

This ruling adheres to the FCC's pre-2003 understanding of what constitutes an ATDS and harkens back to the agency's guidance on the subject from 1992, one year after the passage of the TCPA. In that more contemporaneous interpretation, the FCC determined that the TCPA does not apply to call forwarding or speed dialing “because the numbers called are not generated in a random or sequential fashion.”

This ruling is the first time any Texas court has weighed in on the subject since the ACA International v. FCC ruling from March 2018. The future of TCPA enforcement on ATDS in Texas remain to be seen but it is notable that this initial ruling favors the old "common sense" interpretation as opposed to the Marks determination.