The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday in Baird v. Sabre Inc., et al. that a consumer provided prior express consent required by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act when she provided her cellphone number on a contact sheet.
The decision is a key victory for the credit and collection industries. The decision ultimately came down to an interpretation of what constitutes consent - in this case the consumer’s provision of her phone number to an airline. It extended that consent to the airline’s third-party independent contractor, which becomes a critical defense that could be available to other independent contractors - such as third-party collection agencies - fighting TCPA litigation. Debt collectors receiving consent to contact consumers from original creditors now have a powerful ruling on their side.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss the consumer’s class action TCPA complaint, ruling that the text message the consumer received was not actionable under the TCPA because the consumer voluntarily provided her phone number.
The consumer in the case had booked a flight for her and her family on Hawaiian Airlines’ website. That process required her to enter at least one home, work or mobile number. The consumer provided her cellphone number. Sabre, Hawaiian Airlines’ third-party independent contractor that provides travel notification services, sent a text message about a month later to the consumer’s cellphone inviting her to reply “yes" to receive flight notification services. She didn’t respond and Sabre sent no additional messages. The consumer then brought the class action alleging Sabre violated the TCPA. The district court rejected her claim, holding that the consumer provided consent for such texts when she shared her contact information with Hawaiian Airlines.The Ninth Circuit also noted that the consumer’s consent to receive calls from one business constituted consent to receive calls from a different business because of the contractual relationship between the companies.
ACA International, an association representing the credit and collection industries, filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief with the Ninth Circuit in the Baird appeal in October 2014 to provide insight to the court concerning how the TCPA is interpreted and applied by the collection industry and why the TCPA must be consistently and predictably applied.