In Perrong v. Chase Data Corp., et al., a court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently ruled that no personal liability attaches to the owner of a company for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) violations.

The case arose out of the defendant companies selling “turnkey” calling and texting services. The defendants allegedly sent three text messages to the plaintiff asking him to call a number to discuss potential injuries and possible compensation. Plaintiff alleged that the texts were sent to generate leads for personal injury lawyers, and asserted violations of Section 227(b) of the TCPA, which prohibits automated calling by using a pre-recorded message. The defendants moved to dismiss.

The court found the plaintiff sufficiently alleged a violation against one company and would be allowed to amend his complaint against the successor company. However, the plaintiff’s claims against the owner were another matter.

The court initially noted that the claims against the owner were conclusory and merely recast the allegations against the company by arguing the owner was personally involved. But the deciding factor was Third Circuit precedent, which “raised ‘doubt’ as to whether ‘common-law personal participation liability is available against corporate officers under the TCPA.'” Specifically, the appellate court stated that Congress can and does impose personal-participation liability when it chooses, and there is no such language in the TCPA. Following other courts in the Third Circuit, the court dismissed the claims against the owner without leave to amend.

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