In Mudgett v. Navy Federal Credit Union, 2012 WL 870758 (E.D.Wis. 2012), Judge Edelman held that manually placing a call from a telephone connected to an ATDS did not trigger the TCPA.
Mudgett’s second argument is based on language of the TCPA that defines “automatic telephone dialing system” as equipment that has the capacity to autodial. See 47 U.S.C. § 227(a)(1). She argues that Navy Federal’s autodialers are connected to the phones that were used to call her cell phone, and that even if the calls to her cell phone were placed manually, those calls were made using equipment having the capacity to autodial. In Mudgett’s view, Navy Federal’s agents “do not dial a standard telephone to contact people; instead, [Navy Federal’s] phones are connected to, and place calls through, [Navy Federal’s] integrated computer system.” (Br. at 9, ECF No. 33.) Mudgett contends that Navy Federal’s integrated system qualifies as an automatic telephone dialing system under the TCPA because the system as a whole has the capacity to store, produce and dial telephone numbers. ¶ I have serious doubts as to whether manually dialing a telephone number on a phone that is connected to a computer system capable of autodialing gives rise to liability under the TCPA. Nonetheless, even if it did, Navy Federal would be entitled to summary judgment because Mudgett has not pointed to evidence from which a fact-finder could reasonably conclude that Martin and Owens placed calls from telephones that were connected to computers capable of autodialing. Mudgett does not submit any evidence from a witness who examined Navy Federal’s phone system and determined that Martin and Owens used phones that were physically connected to computers or autodialers. Instead, she relies on excerpts from Navy Federal’s “Phone Skills Manual,” which she contends shows that Navy Federal’s collections agents’ phones are connected to Navy Federal’s computer system, which in turn is connected to an autodialer. However, the Phone Skills Manual does not allow a reasonable fact-finder to conclude that the collections agents’ phones are connected to Navy Federal’s computer system. Rather, as far as the Manual indicates, the collections agents’ phones are ordinary desk phones that operate independently of Navy Federal’s computer system. Although the Manual seems to assume that collections agents will have computers at their desks in addition to phones, it does not suggest that the phones and the computers are interconnected. Thus, on this record, no fact-finder could reasonably conclude that Martin and Owens made calls from telephones that were connected to autodialers.