TCPA Roundup: As Big Data Grows, So Does Scale of TCPA Violations

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As big data grows, so does the scale of TCPA violations, and with that the settlements; one of the largest in TCPA history was in the news last week.

In a California district court, attorneys who guided consumers in suing a bank for a $32 million settlement were denied a bid to increase their fees to $8 million.

The settlement was the largest TCPA deal to be approved at the time, settling the case in which the plaintiffs claimed they had received automated phone calls from the defendants without their consent. However, this past July saw a $75.5 million settlement granted preliminary approval in another case involving a financial institution and two other defendants accused of “cold calling” cellphones.

The plaintiffs, whose fees were reduced to $2.4 million at the time of the settlement, were “disappointed,” as they told legal news publication Law360, following the court’s denial of their motion for increased compensation. Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that their litigation strategy saved the class millions of dollars. They are considering an appeal.

FCC Issues Citations

On May 4, the Federal Communications Commission issued citations to three companies it alleged were engaged in robocalling. The companies were accused by the FCC of using auto dialers to call cellphones with prerecorded messages without obtaining the prior consent of the called party. (In the Matter of Call-Em-All LLC, EB-TCD-12-00002355), (In the Matter of Ifonoclast Inc. d/b/a Phonevite, EB-TCD-12-00002528), (In the Matter of M.J. Ross Group Inc. d/b/a PoliticalRobocalls.com, EB-TCD-12-00004353).

In November 2012, one of the defendant’s call records revealed 3,500 unsolicited calls regarding political campaigns, and another company made close to 300 unprompted calls between September 2012 and March 2013. According to the FCC, if the companies fail to comply to cease calling without prior consent, they may be subject to heavy fines of up to $16,000 per call. The companies each have 30 days to respond to the FCC’s citations.

Cruise Line Suits Consolidated

Robocalls and text messages advertising free cruises sent to consumers’ cellphones by one cruise line triggered TCPA law suits by four separate plaintiffs. Last week the plaintiffs asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to merge their cases in Florida.

The plaintiff’s attorneys claim consolidation will prevent inconsistencies in pre-trial rulings and duplicative discovery. The four cases are currently filed in the Central District of California, the Southern District of Florida, the District of New Jersey, and the Northern District of Illinois. Although the cases are filed in different states, they all have the same basic allegations, and would logically consolidate in Florida, where the company is headquartered and the district is the least busy.

Faxing Prompts Class Actions

Earlier this month, a wholesale retailer was faced with two proposed class actions regarding unsolicited advertisements faxed to consumers. A company  is suing the retailer over faxes it alleges it received inviting the company to join the business’s membership club. The company alleges the retailer violated the TCPA by failing to include an “opt-out notice” in its faxes and costing the plaintiffs monetary damage though the use of their paper, ink, toner, and lawsuit costs.

In a Missouri class action involving companies who also received the faxes, a law firm alleges that the retailer tampered with their fax machine in efforts to send the ad, not only violating the TCPA but the Missouri Computer Tampering Act. The firm represents multiple Missouri companies who received faxes between April 10, 2011, and April 10, 2015.

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