HAPPYNESS: A Court in a TCPA Case Just Gave One of the Cleanest Explanations of Personal Jurisdiction I Have Ever Seen and It Makes Me Smile

So I’m pretty much famous for taking complex legal issues and making them simple and understandable.

Well a federal judge in PA just out did me at my own game. Check out this easy to grasp explanation of the fairly complex issue of personal jurisdiction:

There’s a difference between something that is possible and something that is probable. “ ‘Probably’ means there’s a good chance [something will happen,] ‘possibly’ means [it] might, [it] might not.” The Pursuit Of Happyness (Columbia Pictures 2006). That distinction matters in the world of personal jurisdiction, where a court has to decide what conduct purposefully targets a jurisdiction. In the context of telemarketing calls, conduct that makes a phone call into a jurisdiction possible often will not be enough, but conduct that makes a call probable likely will. In this case, JobsFlag LLC sold lists of potential leads, and those sales made it possible that someone would call the individuals on those lists. But it did not do anything to make it probable that any particular call would happen. So even though JobsFlag sold a list that included Ryan Lacon’s name and phone number, and Mr. Lacon received a call, JobsFlag did not target its activity at Pennsylvania. The Court therefore does not have personal jurisdiction over JobsFlag.


I kind of don’t even need to analyze the case further because the points are all right there. But the Court dives a tad deeper in a later section–still in plain English, however:

JobsFlag’s role in the telemarking scheme was to compile lead packets that it sold to [Lead Aggregators.] JobsFlag had no control over what [Lead Aggregators] did with those lead packets. It knew, of course, that they might call some or all of the individuals listed. But it was also possible that they would mail or email, rather than call. Or they might have compared the list to other marketing materials to winnow the universe of people they called. JobsFlag had no control over what [Lead Aggregators] did with those contacts, and it did not monitor what they did. Nor was its compensation tied to the calls in any way. Once it sent the lead packets, its role ended. Because JobsFlag did not place calls to Pennsylvania, supervise or direct the companies that made those calls, or even monitor whether those companies made calls at all, the cases on which Mr. Lacon relies, in which a company directed a third party to make a call, do not apply

I love this ruling. First, it is dead on from a legal perspective. Second, it is written plainly and concisely. Third–what else is there?

Nice work to the court and its clerks on this one. Take aways to the TCPAWorld crowd: be sure to keep personal jurisdiction in mind especially for lead sellers who do nothing more than generate data leads and sell them downstream.

Note, however, that JobsFlag was not alleged to have made any calls itself. If it had the result might have been different.

The case is Lacon v. Education Principle, 2022 WL 2240074, Case No. 2:21-cv-03957-JDW
(E.D. Pa. June 22, 2022).

Chat soon.



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