In the latest multimillion-dollar settlement of a Telephone Consumer Protection Act class action, Mortgage Investors Corporation agreed to pay $7.4 million to a class of more than 3 million individuals for millions of unsolicited phone calls.
In Oregon federal court, a pair of plaintiffs alleged that MIC targeted veterans with repeated calls about refinancing options for home loans, despite the fact that many call recipients had their numbers on the federal Do Not Call Registry and had not provided prior express consent.
The parties reached a deal last summer and U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Janice M. Stewart granted final approval in early 2016. Pursuant to the agreement, MIC will pay $7,483,600 into a settlement fund to cover cash awards to settlement class members, court-approved attorney fees up to $1,870,900 and litigation expenses up to $147,063, notice and administration costs of $1,190,000, and incentive awards for the named plaintiffs of $5,000 each.
If any amounts remain in the fund as a result of uncashed checks, the money will be disbursed on a cy pres basis to the Veterans Airlift Command and Consumer Federation of America, with no reversion to MIC.
Of the more than 3 million class members, none objected to the settlement and only 52 opted out. A total of 30,289 submitted claims resulted in an award of roughly $140.86 per class member.
Judge Stewart deemed the settlement agreement "fair, adequate and reasonable," granting final approval to the deal.
Although she found the hourly rates charged by class counsel to "greatly exceed" what the court would award for similar work performed by attorneys of comparable skill, experience, and reputation in the community—and that the hours appearing in the time records were excessive—she nevertheless granted the fee award. Accounting for the risk the plaintiff's attorneys assumed when taking the case on a contingent fee basis, she applied a multiplier and found the attorney fees "not unreasonable."
To read the opinion and order in Ott v. Mortgage Investors Corporation, click here.
Why it matters: Mortgage Investors Corporation joins an ever-expanding list of companies that have agreed to pay millions of dollars to end a TCPA class action. Other deals have ranged from the record-setting $75 million paid by Capital One to more than 17.5 million class members to a $40 million agreement by HSBC to Western Union's $8.5 million settlement that was reportedly the largest per-class-member payout in a TCPA suit at up to $650 per class member after payment of attorney fees and costs. Also noteworthy is the Court's approval of plaintiff counsel fees, despite its finding that the hours spent on the case leading up to settlement were "excessive."