By Jonathan Stempel
A federal appeals court on Friday threw out a $229,500 award that a Texas woman had won from Time Warner Cable Inc for harassing her with 153 robocalls after she told it to stop.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the July 2015 award to Araceli King of Irving, Texas, was based on an incorrect interpretation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 ("TCPA").
King, an insurance claims specialist, sought damages because Time Warner Cable kept leaving her messages for someone who once held her cellphone number, even after she made clear in a seven-minute discussion with a company representative who she was.
Seventy-four of the messages came after King sued.
But in Friday's decision, Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch said it was unclear if Time Warner Cable qualified as an "autodialer" regulated by the TCPA, in light of a March 2018 ruling by the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. in another case.
That court voided a 2015 Federal Communications Commission order that expanded TCPA liability, and on which U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan had relied in ruling for King.
Lynch said that reliance was understandable, but that because the FCC order was now void, Hellerstein should do more fact-finding to determine whether Time Warner Cable met the definition of an autodialer when it was calling King.
Hellerstein had awarded King triple damages of $1,500 per call, citing Time Warner Cable's "particularly egregious" conduct.
Stephen Taylor, a lawyer for King, had no immediate comment.
Charter Communications Inc bought Time Warner Cable in May 2016. The Stamford, Connecticut-based company and its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The case is King v Time Warner Cable Inc, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 15-2474.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Bill Berkrot)