In its Memorandum Opinion and Order dated November 9, 2012, the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Pinkard v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. held that under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), when an individual discloses his or her cellular phone number to a business, that individual is deemed to have expressly consented to receive telephone calls and text messages from that business unless he or she has expressly limited the scope of such consent at the time of the disclosure.
On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution did not prohibit a deputy sheriff from conducting a warrantless, post-arrest search of the text messages of an arrestee. Specifically, the Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal that the cell phone was “immediately associated with [defendant’s] person at the time of his arrest” and was therefore “properly subjected to a delayed warrantless search.”
In People v. Diaz, filed on January 3, the Court considered whether the trial court properly denied Diaz’s motion to suppress evidence gathered during a search of his cell phone, which occurred approximately 90 minutes after he was arrested for being a coconspirator in the sale of drugs. Diaz denied knowledge of the sales. A deputy sheriff accessed Diaz’s cell phone, which had been seized from Diaz’s person, and found a coded text message that, based on the deputy’s training and experience, indicated Diaz knew of the transaction.
The California Supreme Court’s ruling hinged on its finding that the cell phone “was an item [of personal property] on [defendant’s] person at the time of his arrest and during the administrative processing at the police station.” People v. Diaz, S1666000, slip op. Majority Op. at 8 (Cal. Jan. 1, 2011). As such, the case was controlled by the United States Supreme Court’s holdings in United States v. Edwards, 415 U.S. 800, 802-803 (1974) and United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 224 (1973), in which the High Court affirmed seizures of paint chips from clothing and a cigarette package containing heroin from a coat pocket (respectively).
In an important decision for employers, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a case involving an employee’s assertion that a government employer had violated the Fourth Amendment by unreasonably obtaining and reviewing personal text messages sent and received on employer-issued pagers. The decision, a victory for employers, provides helpful guidance for management of electronic communication systems and workplace searches. Read this alert to learn more about the decision and how it may affect you.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently ruled that a plaintiff may maintain a suit for receiving an unsolicited text message under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991, even though the plaintiff was not actually charged for receiving the message. In the ruling, the court noted that in enacting the TCPA, Congress was concerned with consumers’ privacy rights and the nuisances of telemarketing.
On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit denied rehearing en banc in Quon v. Arch Wireless, previously discussed here. The dissent (1) disagrees with the panel’s conclusion that the SWAT team members had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the text messages on the grounds that the decision undermines the standard established by the Supreme Court in O’Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709 (1987); and (2) finds that the method used by the panel to determine whether the search was reasonable conflicts with Supreme Court precedent holding that the Fourth Amendment does not require the government to use the “least intrusive means” when conducting a “special needs” search. The dissent can be found here. Judge Wardlaw’s concurrence in the denial of rehearing en banc can be found here. We will keep you posted on this one.
On September 10, 2008, Timberland Company, an outdoor clothing and shoe merchant, along with co-defendant ad agencies GSI Commerce Inc. (“GSI”) and AirIt2Me Inc. (“AirIt2Me”), settled charges brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) arising from unsolicited text messages advertising Timberland’s holiday sale. Pursuant to the settlement, Timberland must employ best practices in future marketing, and must pay $7 million into a fund for distribution to the class. Prior to any future mobile marketing campaign, GSI agreed to circulate to its marketing personnel a copy of the Mobile Marketing Association’s Consumer Best Practices guidelines, and to establish meaningful training and compliance checks in connection with those guidelines. Additionally, the defendants must pay class counsel a maximum amount of $1,750,000. The settlement has been agreed to by all parties, but is still subject to final approval by the court.