A federal judge recently ruled that online auto retailer CarGurus, Inc. did not violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act after a class action suit was filed against the company, alleging CarGurus sent unsolicited text messages to individuals via their website.

CarGurus operates a website that allows users to search for vehicles based on make, model, and other criteria. If a user of the website comes across a car that piques their interest, the user can click on a link to enter their phone number into the website. The vehicle listing is then sent as a link to the user’s phone via text message.

The suit alleged that in 2016, a woman received a vehicle listing text message from CarGurus, even though she had never been on the site or otherwise done business with the company. The plaintiff claimed this violated a provision of the TCPA that prohibits the use of an automatic telephone dialing system, or “ATDS,”  to call or send text messages to an individual without the individual’s prior consent.

CarGurus moved for summary judgment, arguing that they did not violate the TCPA because the company did not make or initiate the “unsolicited” messages. Instead, the company argued, it is the user of the website who initiates the message when they request to have a link to the listing sent to their phone via text message.

Judge Sara Ellis of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois agreed with CarGurus and granted the motion for summary judgment. The Court ruled that the extent of the consumer’s involvement in the sending of the text dictated that the consumer, not CarGurus, must be deemed the initiator of the text. Even though CarGurus controls the content of any text messages sent from the site, the consumer must request the text message and must manually enter their phone number for the text to be sent. CarGurus’ only action is executing the request of the consumer.

In the plaintiff’s case, an unsolicited text message was sent when another user of the CarGurus website with a similar phone number entered the class representative’s number by mistake.

A copy of the opinion can be found here.