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U.S. District Court Finds Car Sales Website Not Liable Under the TCPA

Posted on June 15th, 2018

Judge Saral Ellis from the Northern District of Illinois U.S. District Court ruled that car website—CarGurus—was not liable under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) after the plaintiff received a text message.

In Serban v. CarGurus, Inc., Iarina Serban filed a claim after receiving an unsolicited text message from the website. The plaintiff claimed that CarGurus violated the TCPA. However, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss in response. Judge Ellis denied the defendant’s motion but would later grant summary judgment in light of the facts.

The CarGuru’s website allows consumers to shop for cars by looking for vehicles listed with certain parameters. Once these consumers find a vehicle they are interested in, they can contact the seller through several options. One of those options is “Send to Phone.” When this option is clicked, CarGuru’s text messaging software opens a dialog box to gather information from the consumer. That information is entered into a template that is sent to the phone of the seller.

In the instance that sparked this claim, the car seller that posted on CarGurus had a number ending in 5055. That seller was sent 12 messages using CarGurus’ system. However, the seller only received 11 of those messages. One of the messages was sent to a number ending in 5505. The transposed digits caused that message to be sent to Serban.

This information was communicated to the court during the examination of ESI in the discovery process. Relying on the standards set forth by the FCC 2015 order that was so crucial to the ACA International v. FCC case, Judge Ellis granted summary judgment to CarGurus, Inc.

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