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Friday, January 4, 2013

Chesbro v. Best Buy: Ninth Circuit Holds That Calls Were "Unsolicited Advertisements," Reverses Summary Judgment for Defendant in Privacy Class Action

As the legal landscape has changed, I'm seeing more cases involving allegations of invasion of privacy. See, e.g., Meyer v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC (9th Cir. 10/12/12) (discussed here).  Chesbro v. Best Buy Stores, LLP, --- F.3d --- (9th Cir. 10/17/12, mod. 12/27/12), is another of these cases.  

The plaintiff bought a computer from Best Buy in 2008. He may or may not have signed up for Best Buy's Reward Zone Program (“RZP”) at the time. He received a number of computerized telephone calls at his home from Best Buy after he bought the computer. He filed suit, alleging that Best Buy violated Washington state law and the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (“TCPA”). 47 U.S.C. § 227. 

The district court granted summary judgment in Best Buy’s favor, and the plaintiff appealed.  The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the calls were prohibited “unsolicited advertisements”: 
The robot-calls urged the listener  to “redeem” his Reward Zone points, directed him  to a  website where he could further engage with the RZP, and thanked him for “shopping at Best Buy.”  Redeeming Reward Zone points required going to a Best Buy store and making further purchases of Best Buy’s goods.  There was no other use for the  Reward Zone points.  Thus, the calls encouraged the listener to make future purchases at Best Buy.  Neither the statute nor the regulations require an explicit mention of a good, product, or service where the implication is clear from the context.  Any additional information provided in the calls does not inoculate them.  
Slip op. at 11.  

The opinion is available here.  

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