(CN) - A California debt-collection agency must stop using an automatic dialing system to call cellphones without prior consent, the 9th Circuit ruled Friday.
The federal appeals court in Pasadena affirmed a preliminary injunction barring Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA) from using its "Avaya Proactive Contact Dialer" to calls cellphone numbers that the company obtained through skiptracing. The three-judge panel also approved provisional class certification in an action alleging that PRA used the dialer in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia granted the injunction and certification last year in San Diego, finding a likelihood of success for lead plaintiff Jesse Meyer. The federal appeals court agreed Friday, pointing out that the company had admitted in securities filings that it used "predictive dialers", which is "sufficient to determine that PRA used an automatic telephone dialing system."
"We have little difficulty concluding the record supports the district court's finding that PRA would have continued to violate the TCPA if an injunction had not been issued," Judge Morgan Christen wrote for the court.
"In response to Meyer's motion for a preliminary injunction, PRA did not acknowledge the wrongful nature of its conduct," he added. "Instead, PRA assured the court it would stop calling Meyer without making any assurance regarding other members of the provisional class. We agree with Meyer that PRA's violation of the TCPA violated his right to privacy, an interest the TCPA intended to protect."
Between February 1 and March 31, 2011, PRA called 46,657 cellphone numbers in California, all of which it had obtained by skiptracing, according to the ruling.
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