Court Expands 'Emergency Purposes' for Healthcare Calls

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has long-served as the protective barrier between consumers and unsolicited calls and texts. The statute protects consumers from calls made using automated telephone dialing systems (ATDS), otherwise known as robocalls. Telemarketers, debt collectors, and whoever else violate this enactment may face legal repercussions entitling the recipient to between $500 and $1500 per call or text.

The TCPA does, however, identify numerous exemptions. These include charity solicitations, political surveys, essential school updates, flight cancellations, doctor appointment reminders, and a few others. The TCPA labels many of these calls as being for “emergency purposes,” but recent litigation has led to the term now including another type of call or text.

Newly Defined “Emergency Purposes”

In Lindenbaum v. CVS Health Corp., Lindenbaum alleged that Defendant violated the TCPA by placing prerecorded calls to her cell phone regarding prescription reminders intended for a CVS customer who previously held her number. Plaintiff also alleged that the calls were illegal due to them not being for emergency purposes.

The court rejected this argument and stated that “in many instances, a patient’s ability to timely receive a prescribed medicine is critical in preventing a major health emergency.” The court also mentioned that the calls were in regards to the health and safety of a consumer.

Plaintiff relied on the 2016 civil case St. Clair v. CVS Pharmacy where the court ruled that the prescription reminder calls did not fall under “emergency purposes” as St. Claire continued to receive such calls after asking CVS to stop placing them. The key difference between the two cases, however, is that Lindenbaum did not make CVS aware that they were contacting the wrong person before pursuing litigation.

What This Means for Consumers

Consumers should be aware that as a result of the court decision, prescription reminder calls have been identified as a TCPA exemption; therefore, prior expressed consent is unnecessary. This recent ruling further lengthens the list of exemptions but also provides clarification as to the true definition of “emergency purposes.”

Although restrictions are clearly identified, telemarketers and many other entities continue to send out calls and texts strictly prohibited by the TCPA. If you believe that your consumer rights have been violated, reach out to an experienced attorney who can carefully evaluate your potential civil case.

The Florida TCPA lawyers at The Law Offices of Jibrael S. Hindi are abreast of consumer law statutes and case-law and can implement their knowledge of the law to your benefit. If it is found that you were illegally contacted, the TCPA entitles you to up to $1500 PER VIOLATION! Contact us today at 1-844-JIBRAEL for a free case evaluation. You don’t pay a dime until Jibrael wins for you!