On January 15, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California dismissed a class action complaint against a car-sharing company because the plaintiff failed to plausibly allege the use an automated telephone dialing system (ATDS).
As background, the named plaintiff claimed that a ride-sharing company sent him two text messages using an ATDS without his consent and therefore in violation of the TCPA. The plaintiff also claimed that the car-sharing company is vicariously liable for the text messages sent to him, as he asserts those messages were sent via a commercial text messaging system by an agent or vender of the car-sharing company. The car-sharing company filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the amended complaint was insufficient because (1) the plaintiff’s ATDS allegations were conclusory and (2) the plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that the company had an agency relationship with the sender.
The Court, in dismissing the complaint, agreed that the plaintiff insufficiently alleged the use of an ATDS to send the messages. The Court explained that the plaintiff merely stated the statutory definition of an ATDS and this was insufficient to allow the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the claimed misconduct. The Court found that the plaintiff had not alleged any facts that could support a reasonable inference that an ATDS was used to send the two relevant text messages.
However, in discussing vicarious liability, the Court found that the plaintiff sufficiently alleged that the car-sharing company was vicariously liable for the text messages sent to the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged that the car-sharing company instructed the vendor as to the content of the text messages and their timing, which in this case was sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss on the theory of vicarious liability.
The court ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint without prejudice and provided him 30 days to amend it. On January 22, 2019, the plaintiff amended his complaint to include alleged facts relating to the specific automated text messaging system used by the car-sharing company’s vender to send the subject text-messages.
The case is Bodie v. Lyft, No. 3:16-cv-02558L-NLS (S.D. Cal.).