Plaintiff American Savings Bank, F.S.B (“ASB”) sent text messages to his mobile phone without the consent required by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Affirming the district court’s summary judgment, the Ninth Circuit held that under Van Patten v. Vertical Fitness Grp., LLC, 847 F.3d 1037 (9th Cir. 2017), messages sent by Plaintiff’s phone to ASB’s “short code” number provided the required prior express consent for ASB’s responsive messages.
The district court granted ASB’s motion for an award of costs under Rule 41(d) for costs, including attorney’s fees, that ASB incurred in defending identical litigation commenced and later voluntarily dismissed by Plaintiff in the District of Connecticut. Joining other circuits, and reversing in part, the court held that Rule 41(d) “costs” do not include attorney’s fees as a matter of right. Accordingly, the district court abused its discretion in including attorney’s fees in its award of costs under Rule 41(d).
The court explained that it did not decide if bad faith is sufficient to allow a party to recover attorney’s fees as “costs” under Rule 41(b), as bad faith was not alleged, much less proven, by ASB in the district court. The court did not address whether attorney’s fees are available under Rule 41(b) if the underlying statute so provides because, here, it was undisputed that the TCPA does not provide for the award of attorney’s fees to the prevailing party.
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