Nearly two years ago, in ACA International v. FCC, the DC Circuit reversed the FCC’s 2015 order interpreting the term “automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS) in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and remanded that interpretation for further consideration. Since that time, callers, call recipients, practitioners and litigants have all been awaiting the
Slamming cases are a rarity these days, but this settlement is noteworthy not because it involves slamming, but because of the unusual remedies the FCC required in its consent decree.
The case involves two Notices of Apparent Liability issued to companies now under common ownership, Horizon Telecom, Inc. and Reduced Rate Long Distance, LLC. In Horizon, the Commission proposed a fine of $5,084,000 for slamming. In Reduced Rate, the Commission proposed a fine of $8,000 for failing to respond to two informal consumer complaints. Both NALs were issued in 2008. Yesterday, the Enforcement Bureau released a consent decree settling the two cases.
What is so unusual about the settlement?
In August, we warned that the FCC was preparing a series of major enforcement orders for the transmission of unsolicited faxes. Today, the FCC released 9 forfeiture orders totaling $3.1 million in fines against senders of unsolicited faxes (aka "junk faxes"). With the two proposed fines released in early September and a $77,500 forfeiture ordered two weeks ago, the Commission looks to have completed this round of "junk fax" enforcement.
In a few days, the Commission will list the Forfeiture Orders here. Notably, all but one of the alleged senders failed to respond to the FCC’s Notices of Apparent Liability, and the FCC imposed the full forfeiture it had proposed.