In Payton v. Kale Realty, LLC, plaintiff Payton filed an amended complaint, asserting that defendant Kale used newly added defendant Voiceshot’s services to send unsolicited advertisements to potential customers’ cell phones. Voiceshot provides web-based cloud telecommunication services by which users can send mass text messages for a fee. Voiceshot is a Delaware company with its principal place of business in Michigan, with servers located in California and Texas. Voiceshot moved to dismiss, claiming that it lacked sufficient contacts with the forum for the court to exercise personal jurisdiction over it.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois determined that it has specific jurisdiction over Voiceshot under the Illinois long-arm statute because Voiceshot: (1) contracted with an Illinois corporation; and (2) sent text messages into Illinois that allegedly violated the TCPA. The Court found this conduct was sufficient to demonstrate that Voiceshot purposely availed itself of the benefits of doing business in Illinois. The court also opined that the fact that Voiceshot’s servers are not in Illinois is irrelevant, since Voiceshot “reached inside the state” to contact the plaintiff by performing services for defendant Kale.
Payton is a potentially important decision for TCPA defendants. It is likely that more plaintiffs will begin “forum shopping” to TCPA-friendly jurisdictions such as Illinois, where it may be easier for plaintiffs to certify or settle TCPA classes. Payton demonstrates that, even if a defendant is not located within a particular forum, it may become subject to personal jurisdiction based on contacts with the forum. In addition, it shows that service providers who send messages or solicitations on behalf of another entity may be subject to the TCPA.