TCPA QUICK HITTER: Court Orders Second Class Action Against Direct Energy to New Venue–And the Rationale is Interesting

Quick one for you this AM TCPAWorld.

Home field advantage can often be a REAL advantage in TCPAWorld. Well here’s a good tool to keep in mind to leverage a transfer when you get sued outside of your home state.

In Newman v. Direct Energy, 2023 WL 2914788 (D. Md. April 12, 2023), a court granted a Defendant’s motion to transfer venue on a TCPA class action noting uncertainty over personal jurisdiction.

The Defendant had previously been sued by the same law firm in a different class action. Apparently just days after the Court refused to certify the TCPA suit in that action, counsel filed a TCPA second case–this time in a different jurisdiction and with a slightly different class definition.

While this conduct may seem ridiculous–and it is–that’s not what drove the Court’s decision here.

The Defendant moved to transfer venue to have the second case heard in the same district as the first case but the Court noted it was NOT transferring the case because of the earlier case.

Instead, the Court noted that following the Supreme Court’s Bristol Myers Squibb ruling it has been a little unclear whether out-of-state class members can assert TCPA claims against a defendant outside of the defendant’s home jurisdiction. The Newman court found it is “uncertain” whether jurisdiction exists over non-Maryland claimants since DE was not headquartered in Maryland:

[T]his Court’s ability to exercise personal jurisdiction over claims against Direct Energy by unnamed, non-Maryland-based class members is uncertain.

While very few cases have suggested they cannot, Newman is interesting for determining the controversy on the issue alone is sufficient to justify a transfer to the Defendant’s home venue.

Keep this nifty little ruling in mind folks. Chat soon.


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