Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Communications Law
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The Second Circuit concluded that an unsolicited faxed invitation to participate in a market research survey in exchange for money does not constitute an "unsolicited advertisement" under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order granting Focus Forward's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint. The court reviewed all of the remaining arguments raised by plaintiff on appeal and found them to be without merit. View "Bruce Katz, M.D., P.C., v. Focus Forward, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review challenging an FCC order removing the Solicited Fax Rule from the Code of Federal Regulations. The order was issued in response to the D.C. Circuit's decision holding that the Solicited Fax Rule was unlawful, and vacating a 2014 order of the FCC that affirmed the validity of the Rule. The court concluded that it is bound by the D.C. Circuit's decision and that the agency did not err by repealing the Rule following the D.C. Circuit's ruling. Pursuant to the Hobbs Act's channeling mechanism, the court explained that the D.C. Circuit became the sole forum for addressing the validity of the Rule. Therefore, once the D.C. Circuit invalidated the 2014 Order and the Rule, that holding became binding in effect on every circuit in which the regulation's validity is challenged. Accordingly, the FCC was bound to comply with the D.C. Circuit's mandate and could not pursue a policy of nonacquiescence. View "Gorss Motels, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated its previous opinion and filed an amended opinion in its place.Plaintiff and Church United filed suit against Vimeo, alleging that the company discriminated against them by deleting Church United’s account from its online video hosting platform. Plaintiffs claimed that Vimeo discriminated against them based on sexual orientation and religion under federal and state law. The district court concluded that Vimeo deleted Church United's account because of its violation of one of Vimeo's published content policies barring the promotion of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) on its platform.The court agreed with the district court that Section 230(c)(2) of the Communications Decency Act protects Vimeo from this suit and that plaintiffs have failed to state a claim for relief. In this case, plaintiffs argue that Vimeo demonstrated bad faith by discriminating against them based on their religion and sexual orientation, which they term "former" homosexuality; deleting Church United's entire account, as opposed to only the videos at issue; and permitting other videos with titles referring to homosexuality to remain on the website. However, the court concluded that plaintiffs' conclusory allegations are insufficient to raise a plausible inference of bad faith sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. The court explained that Vimeo removed plaintiffs' account for expressing pro-SOCE views which it in good faith considers objectionable, and plaintiffs, while implicitly acknowledging that their content violated Vimeo's Terms of Service, nevertheless ignored Vimeo's notice of violation, resulting in Vimeo deleting their account.Plaintiffs have also failed to state a claim under either the New York Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act or the California Unruh Act. Because plaintiffs make no allegation suggesting that Vimeo removed their content for any reason other than this violation of the Terms of Service, plaintiffs' allegations lack the substance required to support an inference of discriminatory intent. View "Domen v. Vimeo, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Lands' End in a putative class action brought by Gorss Motels under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), seeking compensation for faxes it received advertising the products of Lands' End.As a preliminary matter, although the parties do not raise the issue on appeal, the court concluded that Gorss has standing to proceed under the TCPA. The court concluded that Gorss gave prior express permission to receive the faxes at issue through its franchise agreements with Wyndham, and rejected plaintiff's contention that any permission to send fax advertisements was given to Wyndham and not to Lands' End. Therefore, the court concluded that Gorss agreed to the process that occurred here, in which Wyndham sent Gorss fax advertisements on behalf of a Wyndham approved supplier, Lands' End, advertising products that could be used in franchised motels. View "Gorss Motels, Inc. v. Lands' End, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against the New York Times. Plaintiff alleged defamation based on the Times's print and online articles about gender bias, favoritism, and groping at the Justice Department. The article details a Times investigation into a series of complaints, using records derived from an EEOC complaint and a sex discrimination and retaliation suit. One of the declarations described an incident between plaintiff and an intern. Plaintiff alleged that the language from this declaration was false and defamatory per se and that the fair report privilege did not apply.The court concluded that the district court performed the proper choice-of-law analysis, applying New York law to the conflict; correctly reasoned that New York was the state with the most significant interests in the litigation and applied New York's fair report privilege; and then properly dismissed plaintiff's complaint as barred by the fair report privilege because the alleged defamatory statement was attributed to an official proceeding. View "Kinsey v. New York Times Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Church United filed suit against Vimeo, alleging that the company discriminated against them by deleting Church United’s account from its online video hosting platform. Plaintiffs claimed that Vimeo discriminated against them based on sexual orientation and religion under federal and state law. The district court concluded that Vimeo deleted Church United's account because of its violation of one of Vimeo's content policies barring the promotion of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) on its platform.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims, agreeing with the district court that Section 230(c)(2) of the Communications Decency Act provides Vimeo with immunity from suit. The court concluded that, under Section 230(c)(2), Vimeo is free to restrict access to material that, in good faith, it finds objectionable. In this case, plaintiffs' conclusory allegations of bad faith do not survive the pleadings stage, especially when examined in the context of Section 230(c)(2). The court explained that Section 230(c)(2) does not require interactive service providers to use a particular method of content restriction, nor does it mandate perfect enforcement of a platform's content policies. Indeed, the fundamental purpose of Section 230(c)(2) is to provide platforms like Vimeo with the discretion to identify and remove what they consider objectionable content from their platforms without incurring liability for each decision. View "Domen v. Vimeo, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that LBD used Automatic Telephone Dialing Systems (ATDSs) in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). In this case, plaintiff received hundreds of unsolicited text messages from LBD over the course of more than a year and a half.The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to LBD, holding that LBD's systems qualified as ATDSs. The court held that LBD's systems met both statutory requirements by having both the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator, and the capacity to dial such numbers. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Duran v. La Boom Disco, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against AEO, alleging that unsolicited spam text messages they received were in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. After the parties agreed to settle, third party defendant Experian objected to certification, arguing that plaintiffs lacked standing under Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016). Class member Bowes objected to the settlement as unfair. The district court approved both the settlement and certified the settlement class.The Second Circuit held that plaintiffs' receipt of the unsolicited text messages, without any other injury, was sufficient to demonstrate injury-in-fact. The court held that plaintiffs were not required to demonstrate any additional harm because the nuisance and privacy invasion attendant on spam texts were the very harms with which Congress was concerned when enacting the Act. Furthermore, history confirms that causes of action to remedy such injuries were traditionally regarded as providing bases for lawsuits in English or American courts. Therefore, the court dismissed Experian's appeal. The court affirmed with respect to Bowes' appeal, because the district court acted within its discretion in approving the class settlement. View "Melito v. Experian Marketing Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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Connecticut General Statute 52‐59b, which provides for long‐arm jurisdiction over certain out‐of‐state defendants except in defamation actions, does not violate plaintiff's First or Fourteenth Amendment rights. This case arose out of a news article published by Bloomberg News, reporting a lawsuit filed by plaintiff against his former employer, Palladyne International Asset Management, and others. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's defamation action as to the out-of-state defendants. In regard to allegedly defamatory statements made by the remaining defendants, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's defamation claim based on the "as much as $500 million" statement, and reversed the district court's dismissal of the defamation claim based on the "repeatedly tried to extort" statement, pursuant to New York Civil Rights Law 74. View "Friedman v. Bloomberg L.P." on Justia Law

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Connecticut General Statute 52‐59b, which provides for long‐arm jurisdiction over certain out‐of‐state defendants except in defamation actions, does not violate plaintiff's First or Fourteenth Amendment rights. This case arose out of a news article published by Bloomberg News, reporting a lawsuit filed by plaintiff against his former employer, Palladyne International Asset Management, and others. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's defamation action as to the out-of-state defendants. In regard to allegedly defamatory statements made by the remaining defendants, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's defamation claim based on the "as much as $500 million" statement, and reversed the district court's dismissal of the defamation claim based on the "repeatedly tried to extort" statement, pursuant to New York Civil Rights Law 74. View "Friedman v. Bloomberg L.P." on Justia Law