South-Western Legal Studies in Business

State Courts Have Jurisdiction over Telephone Consumer Protection Act Cases
Description

Nevada high court held that unless Congress specifies otherwise, state courts generally have jurisdiction to hear cases involving federal law. A Nevada consumer can sue a company in Nevada court for sending unsolicited faxes in violation of federal law.

Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words

Jurisdiction; Telephone Consumer Protection Act; Faxes

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Six times Edwards received one-page unsolicited faxes inviting him to contact Direct Access about loans. Edwards filed a complaint in Nevada state court, claiming violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The statute allows damages of $500 for each unsolicited fax, or $3,000 here. Damages may be trebled if the court finds the defendant willfully violated the statute. The court dismissed the suit, holding that Nevada state courts did not have jurisdiction over the federal law. Edwards appealed.

Decision

Reversed and remanded. Nevada state courts have jurisdiction over unsolicited faxes prohibited by the TCPA. Edwards may request $500 damages for each fax received, may request the damages be trebled, and may request an injunction against any more faxes. State courts are not only empowered to hear cases based on federal law but are bound to do so unless prohibited by Congress. Hence, the Nevada state district court will hear the case.

Citation

Edwards v. Direct Access, LLC, 124 P.3d 1158 (Sup. Ct., Nev., 2005)

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