Golan et al v. Veritas Entertainment, LLC et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that "Mission City Management, Inc.'s and Courage 2012 LLC's Motion to Dismiss" [ECF No. 21] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that "James R. Leininger's Motion to Dismiss" ; [ECF No. 32] is GRANTED.IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that "Michael Dale Huckabee's Motion to Dismiss" [ECF No. 36] is GRANTED. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED Plaintiff's Amended Class Action Petition [ECF No. 4] is DISMISSED, for lack of Article III standing. Signed by District Judge E. Richard Webber on May 20, 2014. (MCB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
RON GOLAN and DORIT GOLAN,
individually and on behalf of all others
VERITAS ENTERTAINMENT, LLC, et al.,
Case No. 4:14CV00069 ERW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter comes before the Court on “Mission City Management, Inc.’s and Courage
2012 LLC’s Motion to Dismiss” [ECF No. 21]; “James R. Leininger’s Motion to Dismiss” [ECF
No. 32]; and “Michael Dale Huckabee’s Motion to Dismiss” [ECF No. 36].
On October 3, 2012, Plaintiffs James Armbruster, Ron Golan, and Dorit Golan, on behalf
of themselves and as representatives of a defined class, filed a putative class action petition in the
Twenty-First Judicial Circuit, St. Louis County, Missouri, styled James Armbruster, Ron Golan
and Dorit Golan v. Veritas Entertainment, LLC and Veritas Marketing Group, LLC, Cause No.
12SL-CC03771 [ECF Nos. 1, 1-5 at 205]. The plaintiffs alleged the named defendants violated
the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), 47 U.S.C. §§ 227 et seq., and 47 C.F.R. §
64.1200(a), by making unsolicited pre-recorded calls to residential telephone lines.
Plaintiffs Ron Golan and Dorit Golan (collectively referred to as “Plaintiffs” or “Golans”)
filed an Amended Class Action Petition (“Amended Complaint”) in the state court on December
4, 2013, styled Ron Golan and Dorit Golan v. Veritas Entertainment, LLC; Veritas Marketing
Group, LLC; Freeeats.com, Inc., d/b/a ccAdvertising; AIC Communications, LLC, d/b/a
ccAdvertising; Gabriel S. Joseph, III; Stephen Wayne Griffin; Mission City Management, Inc.;
Courage 2012, LLC; James R. Leininger; Sixdi, Inc., d/b/a Sixdi; Bob Brewer; and Michael Dale
Huckabee, a/k/a Mike Huckabee [ECF Nos. 1, 1-3, 4], asserting the named defendants violated
Section 227(b)(1)(B) of the TCPA, and Missouri’s Do Not Call Law, Missouri Revised Statutes
§ 407.1095-407.1110. On January 15, 2014, Defendant Mission City Management, Inc.
(“Mission City”) filed a Notice of Removal to this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332,
1441, 1446 and 1453, alleging this Court has original jurisdiction over claims arising under the
TCPA, and under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2), and (5),
because the putative class contains at least 100 members, at least one member of the putative
class is a citizen of a state different from any defendant, and the amount in controversy exceeds
$5,000,000, exclusive of interest and costs [ECF No. 1]. The proposed class consists of:
All persons within the United States to whom Defendants (or some person on
Defendants’ behalf), within four years of October 3, 2012, initiated one or more
telephone calls to such persons’ residential telephone lines using the recorded
voice of Mike Huckabee to deliver a message as part of the above-mentioned
campaign regarding the movie Last Ounce of Courage.
Within the proposed class is the following sub-class:
All Missouri residential subscribers registered on Missouri’s No Call List who
received, within any twelve-month period after January 1, 2012, more than one
“telephone solicitation” (as defined by Missouri Revised Statutes § 407.1095(3))
by or on behalf of Defendants, using the recorded voice of Mike Huckabee as part
of a campaign promoting Last Ounce of Courage.
Defendants Mission City and Courage 2012, LLC (“Courage 2012”) jointly filed a
Motion to Dismiss on January 31, 2014, alleging Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint failed to state a
claim against them, and asking the Court to dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12 (b)(6), the claims as to them, with prejudice [ECF Nos. 21, 22]. On February 14, Defendants
James R. Leininger (“Leininger”) and Michael Dale Huckabee (“Huckabee”) filed separate
motions, also moving the Court to dismiss with prejudice, Plaintiffs’ claims against them, for
failure to state a claim [ECF Nos. 32, 33, 36, 37]. With leave of Court, Plaintiffs submitted their
combined Response to all three Motions to Dismiss on February 28 [ECF No. 42]. Defendants
Mission City, Courage 2012, Leininger, and Huckabee (collectively referred to as “Moving
Defendants”) filed a combined Reply in support of their motions on March 14, 2014 [ECF No.
Defendants Veritas Entertainment, LLC; Veritas Marketing Group, LLC; Stephen Wayne
Griffin; AIC Communications, LLC; FreeEats.com, Inc. (AIC Communications, LLC and
FreeEats.com, Inc. collectively referred to as “ccAdvertising”); and Gabriel S. Joseph III filed
Answers to Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint [ECF Nos. 23-25]. On April 1, 2014, Plaintiffs filed
a “Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint” [ECF Nos. 45 through 45-3] and a
“Motion to Certify Class as to Second Amended Complaint and to Stay Further Certification
Briefing [ECF Nos. 46, 47].
On April 4, 2014, the Court issued an Order, holding in abeyance Moving Defendants’
Motions to Dismiss, pending additional briefing by the parties on certain issues the Court
identified as issues of concern, including the Golans’ standing to bring the action [ECF No. 49].
Plaintiffs and Moving Defendants filed their responsive briefs [ECF Nos. 51, 54 through 54-4].
On May 5, 2014, Defendants Joseph and ccAdvertising filed “Defendants FreeEats.com, AIC
Communications, LLC, and Gabriel S. Joseph, III’s Response to Plaintiffs’ Brief on the Court’s
April 4, 2014 Order,” indicating their desire to join in, and incorporate by reference, the response
filed by Moving Defendants [ECF No. 53]. Defendants Joseph and ccAdvertising have also filed
“Defendants FreeEats.com, AIC Communications, LLC, and Gabriel S. Joseph, III’s Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings or, in the Alternative, Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Amended Class
Action Petition” [ECF Nos. 53, 55].
MOTION TO DISMISS
A party may move under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss a complaint for “fail[ing] to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The purpose of a motion to
dismiss is to test “the sufficiency of a complaint[.]” M.M. Silta, Inc. v. Cleveland Cliffs, Inc.,
616 F.3d 872, 876 (8th Cir. 2010).
“To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations and citation omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Ordinarily, only the facts alleged in
the complaint are considered for purposes of a motion to dismiss; however, materials attached to
the complaint may also be considered in construing its sufficiency. Reynolds v. Dormire, 636
F.3d 976, 979 (8th Cir. 2011).
When ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court “must liberally construe a complaint in favor
of the plaintiff[.]” Huggins v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., 592 F.3d 853, 862 (8th Cir.
2010). However, if a claim fails to allege one of the elements necessary to recovery on a legal
theory, that claim must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Crest Constr. II, Inc. v. Doe, 660 F.3d 346, 355 (8th Cir. 2011). “Threadbare recitals of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Bell
Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Although courts must accept all factual
allegations as true, they are not bound to take as true “a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotations and citation omitted); Iqbal, 556 U.S.
In the TCPA of 1991, Congress found that the use of the telephone to market goods and
services to homes was “pervasive due to the increased use of cost-effective telemarketing
techniques.” Pub. L. No. 102-243, 105 Stat 2394 at § 2 (1991). Additionally, Congress found
that unrestricted telemarketing could constitute an intrusive invasion of privacy, and that many
consumers were outraged over the proliferation of intrusive, nuisance calls to their homes from
telemarketers. Id. Congress further found that individuals’ rights needed to be balanced in a way
that protected the privacy of individuals and permitted legitimate telemarketing practices. Id.
Consequently, Congress amended Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 by adding Section
227 at the end of the Act, placing restrictions on the use of telephone equipment. Pub. L. No.
102-243, 105 Stat 2394 at § 3 (1991).
In their Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that the named defendants violated 47
U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(B). Section 227(b)(1)(B) of the TCPA provides that it shall be unlawful for
any person “to initiate any telephone call to any residential telephone line using an artificial or
prerecorded voice to deliver a message without the prior express consent of the called party,
unless the call is initiated for emergency purposes or is exempted by rule or order by the
Commission under paragraph (2)(B).” 47 U.S.C. § 227 (b)(1)(B).
The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is the agency granted law-making,
law-enforcing, and interpretative authority over the TCPA. See Chevron, USA, Inc. v. Natural
Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 843-44 (1984); 47 U.S.C. §§ 227(b)(2), 227(c)(1),
227(c)(2), 227(g)(3); 20 FCC Rcd. 18272 (Nov. 23, 2005). On May 9, 2013, upon referral of a
case by the Sixth Circuit, the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling on the issue of “on behalf of ”
liability under section 227(c) of the TCPA, which grants a private right of action to individuals
receiving “more than one telephone call within any 12-month period by or on behalf of the same
entity in violation of the regulations prescribed under [subsection c].” In the Matter of the Joint
Petition filed by Dish Network, LLC, et al., 28 F.C.C.R. 6574, 2013 WL 1934349 (F.C.C. May 9,
2013); 47 U.S.C. § 227 (c)(5). In this ruling, the FCC also considered vicarious liability of
sellers for violations of 47 U.S.C. § 227(b). In the Matter of the Joint Petition filed by Dish
Network, LLC, et al., 28 F.C.C.R. 6574. Thus, this Court is able to consider the pending
motions with the benefit of the FCC’s guidance.
“[A] seller does not generally ‘initiate’ calls made through a third-party telemarketer
within the meaning of the TCPA[.]” Id. at 6574. Therefore, a seller is not directly liable for a
TCPA violation unless it initiates call. Id. at 6582. Nor is an action taken for the benefit of a
seller by a third-party, without more, sufficient to trigger the liability of a seller under section
227(b). Id. at 6593. In addition to the TCPA’s provision making it unlawful, absent prior
express consent by the call recipient, for a person to initiate telephone calls to residential
telephone lines using artificial or prerecorded voices to deliver messages, the FCC’s do-not-call
rules also make it unlawful for any person or entity to initiate telephone solicitations to
residential telephone subscribers who have registered their telephone numbers with the national
do-not-call registry. Id. at 6582-83. The FCC has exempted certain categories of calls from its
delivery restrictions on calls using an artificial or prerecorded voice. Among others, the FCC has
exempted calls not made for a commercial purpose, and calls made for a commercial purpose,
but without an advertisement or telemarketing message. See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200.
Nevertheless, a seller that is not directly liable may be held vicariously liable under
federal common law principles of agency for violations of section 227(b) by a third-party
telemarketer. In the Matter of the Joint Petition filed by Dish Network, LLC, et al., 28 F.C.C.R.
at 6582-83. A formal agency relationship is not required to establish a seller’s vicarious liability
for the illegal acts of a third-party telemarketer; plaintiffs can also employ principles of
ratification and apparent authority in pursuing TCPA claims. Id. at 6586-87. Federal common
law is in accordance with the Restatement of Agency. Opp v. Wheaton Van Lines, Inc., 231 F.3d
1060, 1064 (7th Cir. 2000). Missouri agency law likewise mirrors the Restatement’s definition.
See State ex rel. Ford Motor Co. v. Bacon, 63 S.W.3d 641, 642 (Mo. 2002).
“[A]pparent authority to do an act is created as to a third person by written or spoken
words or any other conduct of the principal which, reasonably interpreted, causes the third person
to believe that the principal consents to have the act done on his behalf by the person purporting
to act for him.” Pinkham v. Sara Lee Corp., 983 F.2d 824, 830 (8th Cir. 1992) (quoting
Restatement (Second) of Agency § 27 (1957)); see also Restatement (Third) Agency § 2.03
(apparent authority is the power held by agent or other actor to affect principal’s legal relations
with third parties, when third party reasonably believes actor has authority to act on principal’s
behalf and belief is traceable to principal’s manifestations); Restatement (Third) Agency § 1.03
(person manifests assent or intention through written or spoken words or other conduct).
In its Declaratory Ruling, the FCC provided illustrative examples of evidence that could
demonstrate a telemarketer is a “seller’s authorized representative with apparent authority to
make the seller vicariously liable for the telemarketer’s section 227(b) violations.” In the Matter
of the Joint Petition filed by Dish Network, LLC, et al., 28 F.C.C.R. at 6592. The examples
included evidence showing: 1) the seller allows the telemarketer access to information and
systems that normally would be within the seller’s exclusive control; 2) the ability by the
telemarketer to enter consumer information into the seller’s sales or customer systems; 3) the
authority by the telemarketer to use the seller’s trade name, trademark, and service mark; and 4)
the seller approved, wrote, or reviewed the telemarketing scripts. Id. The FCC also opined:
a seller would be responsible under the TCPA for the unauthorized conduct of a
third-party telemarketer that is otherwise authorized to market on the seller’s
behalf if the seller knew (or reasonably should have known) that the telemarketer
was violating the TCPA on the seller’s behalf and the seller failed to take effective
steps within its power to force the telemarketer to cease that conduct.
Id. The FCC concluded, “At a minimum, evidence of these kinds of relationships . . . should be
sufficient to place upon the seller the burden of demonstrating that a reasonable consumer would
not sensibly assume that the telemarketer was acting as the seller’s authorized agent.” Id. at
Ratification is “the affirmance by a person of a prior act that did not bind him but which
was done or professedly done on his account, whereby the act, as to some or all persons, is given
effect as if originally authorized by him.” BE&K Const. Co. v. N.L.R.B., 23 F.3d 1459, 1466 (8th
Cir. 1994) (quoting Serv. Emp. Union, Local 87 (W. Bay Maint.), 291 NLRB 82, 1988 WL
214072 (1988)). Affirmance is either: “(a) a manifestation of an election by one on whose
account an unauthorized act has been done to treat the act as authorized, or (b) conduct by him
justifiable only if there were such an election.” BE&K Const. Co., 23 F.3d at 1466 (citing § 83 of
the Restatement (Second) of Agency). “An affirmance of an unauthorized transaction can be
inferred from a failure to repudiate it.” Id. (quoting § 94 of the Restatement). The Restatement
(Third) of Agency defines ratification as “the affirmance of a prior act done by another, whereby
the act is given effect as if done by an agent acting with actual authority.” Restatement (Third) of
Agency § 4.01(1). “A person ratifies an act by (a) manifesting assent that the act shall affect the
person’s legal relations, or (b) conduct that justifies a reasonable assumption that the person so
consents.” Restatement (Third) of Agency § 4.01(2).
MISSOURI’S DO NOT CALL LAW
These defendants further argue the Amended Complaint’s allegations are insufficient as a
matter of law to assert Missouri Do-Not-Call claims against them. Missouri’s Telemarketing
No-Call List statute provides:
No person or entity shall make or cause to be made any telephone solicitation to
any residential subscriber in this state who has given notice to the attorney
general, in accordance with rules promulgated pursuant to section 407.1101 of
such subscriber’s objection to receiving telephone solicitations.
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.1098.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
For purposes of a Motion to Dismiss, the facts, as alleged in Plaintiffs’ Amended
Complaint and contained in exhibits incorporated therein, are accepted as true. Those legal
conclusions “couched as a factual allegation” in a complaint, however, are not. Defendants
correctly assert the Amended Complaint lumps defendants together and contains conclusory
statements, such as “Defendants worked in concert to design and implement a telephone
advertising campaign . . ..” The Court sets forth the following recitation of the pertinent facts,
accepted as truly alleged in the Amended Complaint and its incorporated exhibits.
Plaintiffs, filing this putative class action on behalf of themselves, and as representatives
of the defined class, are the Golans. The Golans are individuals who reside in St. Louis County.
Mission City is a Texas corporation, and Courage 2012 is a Texas limited liability company.
Leininger is a manager of Mission City. Huckabee is a radio talk show host and a former
Since prior to January 16, 2010, the Golans have been the account holders of the
residential telephone number (636) 812-XXXX. The Golan’s residential telephone number has
been registered on the Missouri No Call List since January 16, 2010, and on the federal Do Not
Call List since March 7, 2012. The Golans never expressly consented to receiving telephone
calls to (636) 812-XXXX from any of the defendants named in the Amended Complaint.
Defendant Stephen Wayne Griffin (“Griffin”) is President and Chief Executive Officer of
Veritas Marketing (“Veritas Marketing”) and Veritas Entertainment, LLC (“Veritas
Entertainment”). Veritas Entertainment helped produced “Last Ounce of Courage,” a movie that
opened nationwide in at least 1,400 theatres on or about September 14, 2012, and played at the
Wehrenberg Chesterfield Galaxy 14 theatre in Chesterfield, Missouri. “Last Ounce of Courage”
was initially owned by Eastern Gate Films, LLC (“Eastern Gate”), which started the movie, but
Eastern Gate later asked Veritas Entertainment to “come alongside and fix the film.” Veritas
Entertainment provided capital to fix the film in exchange for an equity interest in “Last Ounce
of Courage.” After investing money in the film, Griffin and his associated entities owned a fortynine percent interest in “Last Ounce of Courage.” Mission City made an investment of
$10,000,000 to market the movie.
In 2012, Courage 2012 was formed. Thereafter, Courage 2012, Mission City, and Veritas
Entertainment owned the film. “Last Ounce of Courage” was the only movie Veritas ever
In 2012, Leininger introduced Griffin to Gabriel S. Joseph, III (“Joseph”), the sole officer
and director of FreeEats.com, Inc., d/b/a ccAdvertising, and the sole member of AIC
Communications, LLC, d/b/a ccAdvertising. Subsequently, Joseph made a PowerPoint “pitch”
to Griffin, concerning how to promote the movie effectively, including the use of telemarketing.
Griffin and Joseph then engaged in a series of discussions regarding a telemarketing campaign to
promote “Last Ounce of Courage,” with Griffin acting on behalf of Veritas Entertainment and
Leininger also introduced Griffin to Huckabee, and, in June or July 2012, Griffin went to
Florida to screen “Last Ounce of Courage” to Huckabee at Huckabee’s home. Leininger was also
present at this meeting.
In communicating by email to Griffin, Joseph once carbon-copied Leininger, noting,
“[Leininger] can engage as needed.” In email exchanges between Griffin and Joseph, Griffin
often identified himself as the “President & CEO” of Veritas Entertainment, and used the email
The advertising campaign for “Last Ounce of Courage” included approximately 4 million
telephone calls to residential telephone numbers throughout many states in the United States and
“Email to Text (ETT) Messages” to 30 million cell phones. Defendants knew the telephone calls
would be recorded ahead of time and played when recipients, or their voice mail, picked up the
phone. Joseph referred to the telephone calls as “Artificial Intelligence Call[s]” or “AIC” calls.
Joseph explained the technology functioned like a “logic tree,” in that the telephone call
recipient’s “yes” or “no” responses to questions would dictate the next prerecorded question.
In an August 31, 2012 email to Griffin, Joseph stated, “We need to start our ‘Artificial
Intelligence Call’ (AIC) calls with or without a Celebrity Voice.” Griffin initially was concerned
with the cost of a large-scale telephone-call campaign, informing Joseph in an August 31, 2012
email, “The money is just not there,” and “the only way I know how to pay for this is to go back
to [Leininger].” In this email, Griffin also stated, “I want people to go to see the movie your (sic)
right we only have two weeks. Getting a lot of info about people with a call to see the movie
does not help me at this point.”
ccAdvertising prepared the initial suggested script for the “Last Ounce of Courage” AIC
calls. This script included, among others, the following segments:
Hello[,] this is Governor Mike Huckabee with a 45-second survey. Do
you believe in American freedom and liberty?
This survey is about American freedom and liberty. Every weekday, I am
on the radio talking about liberty, freedom and values. I invite you to listen to the
Mike Huckabee radio show in your area to hear more. Are you, like me[,]
concerned that in the last 10 years Americans have lost some of their rights and
Do you agree that traditional American values are under attack in
mainstream media and by our government?
Would you[,] like[ ] me[,] Mike Huckabee, like to see Hollywood respect
and promote traditional American values?
I am an enthusiastic supporter of a new movie called Last Ounce of
Courage. It is a film about faith, freedom, and taking a stand for American values.
May I tell you more about why I recommend that you and all Americans see the
movie Last Ounce of Courage? (Please note that only “Yes” responses go to
segment 6. All other responses go to segment 8.)
Thank you for your interest. Last Ounce of Courage opens in theaters on
Friday, September 14th. Last Ounce of Courage will inspire you and your loved
ones to celebrate our nation and the sacrifices made to protect our liberties. It is a
great story about taking a stand for religious freedom. The film is a timely
reminder of all that is worth defending in our nation. Experience the Last Ounce
of Courage trailer and see audience reactions at www dot Last Ounce the Movie
dot com. That’s Last Ounce the Movie dot com. Would you like to hear this
information again? (Please note that only “yes” responses go to segment 7. All
other responses go to segment 8.)
Last Ounce of Courage opens in theaters on Friday, September 14th. Last
Ounce of Courage will inspire you and your loved ones to celebrate our nation and
the sacrifices made to protect our liberties. It is a great story about taking a stand
for religious freedom. The film is a timely reminder of all that is worth defending
in our nation. Experience the Last Ounce of Courage trailer and see audience
reactions at www dot Last Ounce the Movie dot com. That’s Last Ounce the
Movie dot com.
Thank you for your answers so far. I have [just a] few more questions for
demographic purposes. Do you own a smart phone?
This is Governor Mike Huckabee. Thank you for your time and views. I
invite you to listen to my radio show, every weekday on a station in your area and
to see the movie, Last Ounce of Courage[,] in theaters on September 14th. This
survey was sponsored by Last Ounce of Courage. For more information[,] please
visit Last Ounce the Movie dot com or call 419/777-8263. Goodbye.
This is Governor Mike Huckabee. Thank you for your time and views. I
invite you to listen to my radio show, every weekday on a station in your area and
to see the movie, Last Ounce of Courage[,] in theaters on September 14th. This
survey was sponsored by Last Ounce of Courage. For more information[,] please
visit Last Ounce the Movie dot com or call 419/777-8263. Goodbye. (Plays on
hang-up if no response is given)
This was a public survey call. We may call back later. (Plays if we get an
Joseph emailed this script draft to Griffin, and to defendant Bob Brewer, who is an officer of
defendant Texas corporation SixDi, on September 4, 2012, asking them to review the script and
provide any comments as soon as possible. Huckabee recorded the script on September 4, 2012,
“using his own voice.” Huckabee knew the recording would be played for telemarketing
purposes during telephone calls to consumers.
After learning, on September 5, 2012, that Huckabee had recorded the script, Griffin sent
Joseph an email, stating, “[I] need to review the call.” That same day, Joseph sent Brewer an
email, requesting information for targeting cities and states where the most theatres would be
showing the movie. Brewer, using the email address email@example.com, responded on
September 5, stating, “Let’s go. The Huckabee AIC call is approved.”
On September 6, Joseph sent Leininger a test call of the Huckabee call for “Last Ounce of
Courage.” Leininger liked the call, but wanted the script to be shorter, progressing from Segment
2 to Segment 5, and skipping the questions in between, because Leininger “was anxious to get
people to the movie permission segment.” Joseph made Leininger’s suggested changes.
ccAdvertising sent an email to Griffin and Brewer on September 7, 2012, providing
Griffin and Brewer a user login and password for a secure information data directory, so that they
could access summary reports regarding the Huckabee calls made, including (a) the percentage of
homes where the calls reached live respondents or answering devices; (b) client call status,
showing how each call was registered by major category; (c) client segment status, showing by
percentage levels how each live respondent answered each question; and (d) client response rate,
showing composite percentages of how many “Yes” or “No” questions were answered and by
how many respondents. Neither Griffin, nor anyone from Veritas Marketing, ever logged on to
ccAdvertising’s secure data directory.
Initially, ccAdvertising invoiced SixDi for its work on the “Last Ounce of Courage”
campaign. Later, ccAdvertising’s invoices, including Invoice #4065, were sent to Griffin’s
attention, and listed “Veritas Entertainment” in the bill-to section. Veritas Entertainment or
Veritas Marketing paid ccAdvertising $248,500 for the 4 million AIC calls to residential
telephone numbers, and $30,000 for the 30 million ETT messages to cell phones. ccAdvertising
received by wire transfer, $100,000 on or about September 7, 2012; $100,000 on September 14,
2012; and the final $78,500 during the first week of October 2012.
In a September 14, 2012 email to Griffin concerning payments, Joseph requested a reply
indicating when he could expect the next $100,000 payment on the balance due. He threatened
to shut down the Huckabee AIC campaign if he did not hear from Griffin that morning, and
stated, “[P]lease let me know if I need to engage [Leininger] in this to make sure he has provided
you the monies you need to pay ccAdvertising.”
On September 10 and 12, 2012, ccAdvertising, via telephone number 202-769-1087,
initiated telephone calls to the Golans’ residential telephone line, using Huckabee’s pre-recorded
voice to deliver a message encouraging the Golans to go see “Last Ounce of Courage.” The
Golans received two of the Huckabee calls, which left messages consisting of language from
Segment 15 of the script on their answering machine: “This was a public survey call. We may
call back later.” The name showing on the Golan’s caller ID, corresponding to 202-769-1087,
When “lastouncethe movie.com” was typed as a Uniform Resource Locator (“URL”), the
URL redirected the user to http://www.standusa.com/last-ounce-of-courage/, which contained a
“BUY TICKETS” link, as well as an “ABOUT VERITAS” link, http://www.standusa.com/loocabout-veritas/.
After the Huckabee calls were made to 4 million homes, ccAdvertising created a “Survey
Questionnaire,” which identified the purpose for the “survey” was “to identify those respondents
who believe in American freedom and liberty and who are interested in hearing more information
about the movie ‘Last Ounce of Courage.’” According to this Survey Questionnaire, “1,018,609
live responses were detected.” Regardless of whether recipients of the calls answered “yes” or
“no” to Questions 1 and 2 in the script, recipients who did not hang up were presented with
Question 5, in which Huckabee recommended they see “Last Ounce of Courage.”
Joseph and ccAdvertising obtained the telephone numbers called during the campaign
from a database purchased from Axion Corporation more than a decade earlier. This database
provided White Pages data in digital format. Other than named defendants, none of the persons
who were called had indicated to any defendant, or anyone else, a desire to receive telephone
calls promoting “Last Ounce of Courage.”
Plaintiffs allege the named defendants violated section 227(b)(1) (B) of the TCPA, which,
with certain exceptions, prohibits persons from initiating calls to residential telephone lines
using a prerecorded voice to deliver a message without the called party’s prior express consent.
Plaintiffs also claim the moving defendants are liable under Missouri’s Do Not Call law, because
they made, or caused to be made, the telephone solicitation to Plaintiffs’ residential lines,
working together to “bring about” the prerecorded voice calls.
In their Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Moving Defendants claim Plaintiffs
fail to allege facts to support their claims that these defendants violated the TCPA and Missouri’s
Telemarketing No-Call List Act. Moving Defendants contend Plaintiffs have failed to allege
facts sufficient to show they made or “cause[d] to be made any telephone solicitation to any
residential subscriber in this state[,]” as required by the Missouri statute. Mission City and
Courage 2012 further contend the specific allegations regarding them, together with Plaintiffs’
conclusory, general allegations concerning all the defendants, are insufficient as a matter of law
to assert TCPA claims against Mission City and Courage 2012.
As to Plaintiffs’ TCPA claim, Moving Defendants contend Plaintiffs fail to allege
sufficient facts showing Moving Defendants either initiated the calls, or are vicariously liable for
ccAdvertising’s calls [ECF No. 22]. Moving Defendants argue Plaintiffs’ theories of ratification,
and impermissible delegation of duty fail, claiming Plaintiffs did not raise them in their
Complaint, and the Complaint’s allegations do not support either theory. As well, Moving
Defendants contend Plaintiffs fail to allege sufficiently their other theories of liability, including
allegations supporting the existence of a formal agency relationship.
Moving Defendants contend the Amended Complaint fails to plead sufficient facts to
support Plaintiffs’ apparent authority agency and ratification theories, and they more specifically
argue the Complaint fails to plead sufficiently that they controlled the manner and means of the
calls [ECF No. 43]. As to Plaintiffs’ claims against Courage 2012, Moving Defendants assert
Plaintiffs, at most, have alleged the entity owned the film, and they contend ownership does not
make an owner liable, even assuming the owner financed the operations. Moving Defendants
contend Plaintiffs’ claims against Mission City fail for the same reason, and they argue the TCPA
does not impose liability upon one who merely invests in a product.
In their combined response in opposition to the Motions to Dismiss filed by Moving
Defendants, Plaintiffs claim the moving defendants “were intimately involved in the creation of
the message and the timing of the calls” [ECF No. 42 at 2]. Plaintiffs contend “common sense,”
and the Restatement (Third) of Agency, prevent parties from avoiding liability for torts they
orchestrate, but hire a third party to execute. Plaintiffs assert Moving Defendants controlled the
process and terms by which the violations occurred, and argue defendants’ actions developed a
principal-agent relationship with ccAdvertising that subjected them to vicarious liability for the
violations. Specifically, as to Mission City and Courage 2012, Plaintiffs contend in their
opposition that these two entities, through their principal, Leininger, funded the calls, acquired
Huckabee as the “celebrity voice” for the prerecorded calls, and hired ccAdvertising as the
marketer of the calls. Plaintiffs contend Courage 2012, as owner of the film, is chargeable with
its officers’ knowledge and participation in causing the calls to be made on its behalf. They
claim Mission City, through its principal, Leininger, invested at least $10,000,000 to market
“Last Ounce of Courage”; was informed of, and actively participated in the marketing plan for
the film; and reviewed and edited the final prerecorded voice scripts to be used in the calls.
Plaintiffs further argue that, even if Mission City and Courage 2012 did not give actual
authority to ccAdvertising to make the calls, the two entities, and the other moving defendants,
“ratified the wrongful acts by accepting the benefit of the wrongful advertising, without protest.”
Plaintiffs claim Mission City’s and Courage 2012’s acceptance of proceeds from the movie,
without objecting to the calls having been made, constituted ratification of the calls that were
physically initiated by ccAdvertising, making them as liable as if ccAdvertising had made the
calls as their agent acting with actual authority.
On April 4, 2014, the Court issued its Order, informing the parties its review had revealed
issues of considerable concern that warranted holding any ruling in abeyance, pending additional
briefing by the parties. Plaintiffs’ recently filed motions for leave to file a second amended
complaint and to certify the class as to the proposed amended complaint, made the need to
address these threshold issues even more compelling.
The most pressing concerns presented by the factual allegations, raised the questions of
whether Plaintiffs suffered any injury sufficient to give them standing to bring this case in federal
court, and whether they are proper class representatives for this action. Article III case-orcontroversy standing is a question that must bear the Court’s sua sponte scrutiny. See FW/PBS,
Inc. v. Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 231 (1990). Plaintiffs alleged these defendants and others violated
the Missouri Do Not Call Law, Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 407.1095-407.1110; and Section 227(b)(1)(B)
of the TCPA, a provision that makes it unlawful for a person “to initiate” a call to a residential
line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver an unauthorized message, unless the call is
initiated for any emergency purpose, or is exempted by the FCC. 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(B).
The applicable FCC regulation exempts calls not made for a commercial purpose, and
calls made for a commercial purpose but without an advertisement or telemarketing message,
from the TCPA’s prohibition on calls using an artificial or prerecorded voice. See 47 U.S.C. §
227(b)(1)(B) and (b)(2)(B); 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(a)(3). The Amended Complaint’s allegations
show Moving Defendants did not “initiate” the calls made to the Golans. The Amended
Complaint further reveals the two calls placed to the Golans’ telephone number reached only
their answering device, and the entirety of the message left on the device stated: “This was a
public survey call. We may call back later.” Plaintiffs’ allegations show that the Golans had no
knowledge of the contents of the message they now challenge individually and “on behalf of all
others similarly situated.” Although the TCPA, in its effort to protect consumers’ privacy rights,
provides that a person who initiates calls with a prerecorded message may be liable, the statute
does not show Congress expressed an intent to circumvent the Article III case-or-controversy
standing requirement, which requires a plaintiff to demonstrate a distinct and palpable injury
when seeking a private remedy. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975). Presumably, a
plaintiff seeking redress must hear a message to ascertain whether it is made for a commercial
purpose and contains an unsolicited advertisement. It is difficult to discern how the Golans’
privacy rights were invaded by a message they did not hear, and of which they had no
knowledge. The Golans’ standing to bring a claim under Missouri’s Do Not Call Law, and
ability to act as class representatives under Missouri law, are likewise in issue, as the restrictions
of Section 407.1107.3(1)-(3) apply to “telephone solicitations,” which, again, would require
some knowledge of a call’s message. See Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 407.1098, 407.1107.3 (providing
right of private action to any person who has received more than one telephone solicitation
within any twelve-month period by or on behalf of the same person or entity in violation of §
The Court noted Plaintiffs’ failure to raise ratification and delegation of duty in their
Amended Complaint is not an absolute bar to a possible recovery under those theories. In some
circumstances, a party may obtain relief on a theory of recovery proved during trial, but not
expressly raised in the Complaint, provided the theory is based on the same wrongful act
pleaded, and the opposing party has been afforded fair notice. See Morgan Distrib. Co., Inc. v.
Unidynamic Corp., 868 F.2d 992, 995 (8th Cir. 1989). For purposes of a motion to dismiss,
however, the Court’s inquiry is whether Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint, liberally construed,
alleges all of the elements necessary to recover on a legal theory. Huggins, 592 F.3d at 862;
Crest Constr. II, Inc., 660 F.3d at 355.
Plaintiffs, relying on the FCC’s declaratory ruling in In the Matter of the Joint Petition
filed by Dish Network, which analyzed the vicarious liability of sellers for violations of 47 U.S.C.
§ 227(b), contended the moving defendants are vicariously liable for the actions of a third-party
telemarketer. 47 C.F.R. 64.1200(f)(9) defines “seller” as “the person or entity on whose behalf a
telephone call or message is initiated for the purpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of, or
investment in, property, goods, or services, which is transmitted to another person.” The
Amended Complaint’s factual allegations and incorporated exhibits did not appear to support the
proposition that any moving defendant qualifies as a “seller.” Consequently, the Court ordered
the parties to brief the issues discussed above, particularly, the jurisdictional issue of standing,
and the named plaintiffs’ qualifications to act as class representatives.
In their Response to the Court’s April 4, 2014 Order, Plaintiffs, addressing the Court’s
concern as to whether the Golans suffered any injury sufficient to give them standing to bring
this action in federal court, claim they have alleged facts conferring Article III standing, because
they have statutory standing under the TCPA and Missouri’s Do Not Call Law [ECF No. 51].
They contend statutory damages are available to them without proof of an injury, and state “[t]his
Court should follow other courts to have considered the issue and hold that recipients of
prerecorded telephone calls to their telephones, like the Golans, have Article III standing to
pursue TCPA claims.” Plaintiffs’ statutory standing argument, however, goes to whether
Plaintiffs can prevail on the merits of their claims, and thus is not applicable at this stage of the
litigation, where the “target” of the standing inquiry is Article III. Huyer v. Wells Fargo & Co.,
295 F.R.D. 332, 340-41 (S.D. Iowa, Oct. 23, 2013) (citing Hall v. LHACO, Inc., 140 F.3d 1190,
1196 (8th Cir. 1998)). Moreover, even when an injury exists solely due to violation of a
statutorily-created legal right, Article III’s jurisdictional requirement of injury in fact still must be
satisfied. See Summers v. Earth Island Inst., 555 U.S. 488, 497 (2009) (“[T]he requirement of
injury in fact is a hard floor of Article III jurisdiction that cannot be removed by statute.”).
Plaintiffs additionally state they have alleged facts showing their privacy was invaded,
and the calls were those Congress sought to curb. They contend these allegations show they
suffered damages sufficient to confer standing under the TCPA.
In their joint response to Plaintiffs’ briefing, Moving Defendants assert Plaintiffs received
two voice mail messages they admit did not mention any movie or other commercial product.
Moving Defendants contend Plaintiffs consequently lack standing to bring this action, because
they did not see, know about, or otherwise become aware of an unsolicited advertisement.
Moving Defendants claim Plaintiffs “had no inkling that the messages might eventually mention
a movie” until Plaintiffs’ counsel told them. Moving Defendants filed several exhibits with their
Response, including excerpts of Plaintiffs’ August 16, 2013 deposition testimony [ECF Nos. 541 through 54-4].
During their depositions, the Golans testified that the two recorded messages left on their
answering machine stated, in their entirety: “Liberty. This is a public survey call. We may call
back later.” [ECF Nos. 54-2 at 4-7; 54-3 at 3-4]. The Golans also testified that, when they
received the calls, they did not know who had made them; did not recognize the caller’s voice;
did not know the calls concerned the movie “Last Ounce of Courage”; and did not know the calls
involved an advertisement for the movie [ECF Nos. 54-2 at 5; 54-3 at 4]. They further testified
they had no firsthand or independent knowledge that the calls involved an advertisement for the
movie “Last Ounce of Courage”; and stated the only basis they had, for understanding the calls
were part of a campaign to advertise the movie, consisted of information provided to them by
their attorney when he approached them about the lawsuit [ECF Nos. 54-2 at 5-6; 54-3 at 4-5].
Dorit Golan testified she had no intention to sue over the calls when she received them, and the
intention to file suit did not arise until Plaintiffs’ attorney suggested they join the lawsuit [ECF
No. 54-3 at 5-6]. Ron Golan stated the idea to file the action came from Plaintiffs’ attorney,
who asked Mr. Golan if he was willing to be part of the lawsuit [ECF No. 54-2 at 7].
Article III standing is the threshold determination in every federal case, and the filing of
suit as a class action does not exempt it from meeting this jurisdictional requirement. Huyer, 295
F.R.D. at 341.
To establish standing sufficient to meet the requirements of Article III of the
United States Constitution, a party must establish three elements: (1) the party
must have suffered an “injury in fact,” consisting of an “invasion of a legally
protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized . . . and (b) actual and
imminent”; (2) there must be a causal connection between the injury and the
conduct complained of, where the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged
action; and (3) “it must be ‘likely,’ as opposed to merely ‘speculative,’ that the
injury will be ‘redressed by a favorable decision.’”
Hall, 140 F.3d at 1195 (citation omitted). The Court finds the Golans have not suffered an
injury in fact within the meaning of Article III.
Congress enacted the TCPA to address the nuisance and invasion of privacy resulting
from an increased number of telemarketing calls. Pub. L. No. 102-243, 105 Stat 2394 at § 2.
Plaintiffs allege Moving Defendants violated § 227(b)(1)(B) of the Act, which prohibits the
initiation of calls to residential telephone lines using a prerecorded voice to deliver a telephone
solicitation; and Missouri’s Telemarketing No-Call List statute, Mo. Rev. Stat. 407.1098, which
also prohibits telephone solicitations made to certain residential telephone subscribers. The
FCC, however, has exempted certain categories of calls from its restrictions on calls using a
prerecorded voice, including calls made for a commercial purpose, but without an advertisement
or telemarketing message. See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(a)(3). Even accepting, for purposes of this
Motion, that the calls were made for a commercial purpose, neither of the two messages received
by the Golans’ answering machine contained an advertisement, telemarketing message, or
telephone solicitation. The Amended Complaint’s allegations do not show the Golans’ privacy
was ever invaded as contemplated by either of the consumer protection statutes under which they
bring their claims. Consequently, Plaintiffs are not within the scope of individuals to whom a
right of relief has been given, and they have not alleged a distinct and palpable injury to
themselves. See Warth, 422 U.S. at 500-01. “The proper analysis of standing focuses on
whether the plaintiff suffered an actual injury, not on whether a statute was violated.” Doe v.
Nat’l Bd. of Medical Examiners, 199 F.3d 146, 153 (3rd Cir. 1999). Nor does the Court find any
alleged injury is “fairly traceable” to the challenged phone calls. Plaintiffs had no independent or
firsthand knowledge of any advertisement, telemarketing message, or telephone solicitation
promoting “Last Ounce of Courage.” The sum of their knowledge about their alleged injury was
based upon what someone else told them, after the fact.
As to the Court’s query concerning the Golans’ qualification to act as class
representatives, Plaintiffs claim they are not disqualified from being class representatives “simply
because the full script was not recorded on their answering machine.” They argue that the
content of the message the Golans heard is not determinative of their fitness to serve as class
representatives, because the TCPA is concerned with the initiation and purpose of prohibited
calls, not whether the recipient actually receives the full message.
Moving Defendants argue, even assuming Plaintiffs have standing and state claims
against Moving Defendants, Plaintiffs are inadequate class representatives, because the Golans
cannot show their claims are typical of the claims of the putative class, as they did not hear any
commercial message and had no knowledge of the message’s contents before initiating this
action. Moving Defendants further argue that a jury could easily find the Golans suffered no
injury because they heard nothing commercial in nature. They contend the Golans are thus
vulnerable to a unique defense -- they never heard any commercial message, or even a mention of
the movie -- which would jeopardize claims of class members who participated in a survey and
heard a commercial message. The Court agrees.
As the named plaintiffs, the Golans must fairly and adequately protect the interests of the
class. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4). Among other things, they must share the same interest and incur
the same injury as the putative class members. Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 411-12 (1975) (. . .
“if none of the named plaintiffs purporting to represent a class establishes the requisite of a case
or controversy with the defendants, none may seek relief on behalf of himself or any other
member of the class.”(citation omitted)). Plaintiffs whose claims are subject to a defense are not
qualified to act as class representatives, if other class members may not be subject to the same, or
any, defense. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(3) (“Prerequisites to a Class Action. One or more members
of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all only if . . . the claims or
defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class[.]”). The
Court finds the named plaintiffs are not qualified as adequate class representatives.
Plaintiffs’ Response did not address the Court’s expressed concern that the Amended
Complaint’s factual allegations and incorporated exhibits did not appear to indicate any moving
defendant qualified as a “seller” for purposes of vicarious liability. Moving Defendants did brief
the issue in their response; however, because the Court concludes Plaintiffs lack Article III
standing, it need not address whether the principles of vicarious liability mandate the dismissal of
Plaintiffs’ claims against Moving Defendants.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that “Mission City Management, Inc.’s and Courage 2012
LLC’s Motion to Dismiss” [ECF No. 21] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that “James R. Leininger’s Motion to Dismiss” [ECF No.
32] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that “Michael Dale Huckabee’s Motion to Dismiss” [ECF
No. 36] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Amended Class Action Petition [ECF NO.
4] is DISMISSED, for lack of Article III standing.
day of May, 2014.
E. RICHARD WEBBER
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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