In Panzarella v. Solutions, No. 18-3735, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104746 (E.D. Pa. June 15, 2020), Judge Tucker granted summary judgment to a TCPA defendant on the basis that no ATDS was used under the TCPA.
Plaintiffs, in arguing that the ININ system is an ATDS, point to the ININ user manual and a declaration from an expert, Randall Snyder. See Pls.’ Resp. Opp’n Summ. J. 10; Pls.’ Surreply 4, ECF No. 65-2. The Interaction Dialer Manager Help manual explains that the ININ dialing system architecture relies on additional components, including a database management system like Microsoft SQL or Oracle DBMS to store and organize client lists. Pls.’ Resp. Opp’n Summ. J., Ex. A, NSL_EP_0000047, ECF No. 63-1. Defendant uses Microsoft SQL servers to “sort and store telephone numbers associated with consumer accounts.” Mem. Supp. Summ. J. 10. Plaintiffs argue that Microsoft SQL can generate random or sequential number tables. Pls.’ Sur-reply 3. Plaintiffs posit that because the “SQL Server is configured by [Defendant] to be a necessary component of the ININ dialing system architecture,” and SQL can generate random or sequential numbers, the ININ dialing system therefore has the present capacity to dial numbers generated randomly or sequentially and is therefore an ATDS. Defendant, on the other hand, argues that the SQL servers are a separate database from the ININ dialing system. Mem. Supp. Summ. J. 10. Defendant relies on a declaration from Joshua Dries, the Senior Director of Dialer Operations for Defendant. Mem. Supp. Summ. J. 10. In that declaration, Dries states that, “SQL servers are separate systems for storing database or file-based data . . . This data is accessed by NSL’s different dialing platforms, including the ININ system.” Dries Decl. ¶ 28, ECF No. 54-3. Dries also states that, “tables of numbers that are stored on the SQL servers are uploaded into [Defendant’s] ININ system to begin the dialing campaign.” Dries Decl. ¶ 29. Based on the record presented, the Court finds that the SQL server is distinct from the ININ dialing system. As a preliminary matter, the D.C. Circuit’s reason for striking down the FCC’s broad construction of which technologies constitute an ATDS in ACA Int’l v. FCC weighs heavily on the Court’s analysis here. See 885 F.3d 687 (D.C. Cir. 2018). One of the chief concerns of the D.C. Circuit was the “eye-popping sweep” of the FCC’s interpretation if every smartphone qualified as an ATDS because of its ability to download an application with the requisite features. Id. at 697. Plaintiffs’ expert, Randall Snyder, declares that, “Oracle and SQL Server are among the two most popular enterprise database technology systems in use.” Decl. Randall Snyder ¶ 48, ECF No. 65-3. The widespread use of the Microsoft SQL servers, acknowledged even by Plaintiffs, motivates the Court to carefully consider whether it should be regarded as part of the same system. Holding that SQL is part of the ININ dialing system risks a far-reaching and overly-broad interpretation of systems that may be considered ATDSs. In addition, the manual to which Plaintiffs direct the Court’s attention leads the Court to conclude that the SQL servers are separate from the ININ dialing system. The manual states that “the database server often runs on dedicated hardware.” Pls.’ Resp. Opp’n Summ. J., Ex. A, NSL_EP_0000047, ECF No. 63-1. The Parties agree that Defendant’s configured their system with the SQL server on separate, dedicated hardware. Joshua Dries Depo. 97:24-98:2, ECF No. 63-4. The database server being housed in separate hardware suggests that it should be considered a distinct system. In addition, the manual states that “[n]o databases are included with the dialer,” and that “a third-party database management system is required.” Pls.’ Resp. Opp’n Summ. J., Ex. A, NSL_EP_0000062. The manual considering the database management system to not be “included” and a “third party system” weighs in favor of finding the SQL database to be a system distinct from the ININ dialing system. Further, the manual repeatedly refers to the Dialer’s ability to import information from the SQL database server. See, e.g., Pls.’ Resp. Opp’n Summ. J., Ex. A, NSL_SP_0000062, 68, 314-16. For example, when explaining the ININ system’s ability to create dialing campaigns, the manual reads: “[i]f you already have data stored in a separate database. . . you can import that data into your Dialer database using Dialer’s Contact Import Wizard.” Pls.’ Resp. Opp’n Summ. J., Ex. A, NSL_EP_0000068. The allusion to information from SQL being imported suggests that information is being transferred from one system to another. Black’s Law Dictionary, though it does not contemplate the electronic importing of information, defines import as “a product brought into a country from a foreign country where it originated.” Import, Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). Similar to the dictionary’s reference to products being brought from one country to another, the Court finds that the manual’s repeated reference to contact lists being imported to imply that the information is being transferred from one distinct system to another. In short, the conclusion that Microsoft SQL is a part of the ININ dialing system does not follow from the ININ dialing system supporting and being compatible for easy use with Microsoft SQL. Plaintiffs have introduced no evidence to suggest that the ININ dialing system on its own is an ATDS. Instead, they agree that the Defendant used the SQL system to store and organize contact lists and then imported those lists into the ININ dialing system to initiate dialing campaigns. Therefore, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs’ TCPA claim because there is not a genuine issue of material fact regarding the ability of the ININ dialing system, on its own, as configured by Defendant, to generate random or sequential telephone numbers to be dialed. The Court therefore finds, based on the record presented to it, that the ININ system, as used by Defendant, is not an ATDS.