As we have detailed countless times on this blog, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), with some notable exceptions, allows individuals to file lawsuits (including class action lawsuits) to collect damages for having received unsolicited faxes, pre-recorded telephone calls and/or autodialed telephone calls.
What are the Penalties for Violating the TCPA?
The TCPA allows for actual damages, or statutory damages ranging from $500.00 to $1,500.00 per unsolicited call/text message, depending on whether the defendant “willfully” or “knowingly” violated the TCPA. Not surprisingly, the TCPA (particularly its applicability to text message marketing) has become fertile ground for class action litigation against advertisers and telemarketers, as well as suits seeking personal liability against owners and officers.
Connecticut’s New TCPA-Like Statute Increases Statutory Penalties
On May 28, 2014, Connecticut Governor, Dannel Malloy, signed Senate Bill 209 into law. The new law, codified as Public Act 14-53, will go into effect on October 1, 2014, and significantly mirrors the language and intent of the TCPA, with one major exception: while the TCPA provides for statutory damages ranging from $500.00 to $1,500.00 per violation, Connecticut’s new TCPA-like statute provides for statutory damages of up to $20,000.00 per violation! Considering that telemarketing campaigns often involve thousands to, in some cases, millions, of calls/text messages, potential damages under Connecticut’s new statute could escalate extremely quickly.
Steps to Avoid Liability under the TCPA and Similar Statutes
Working on an ongoing basis with experienced telemarketing and Internet marketing attorneys, well versed in telemarketing law and litigation, can make all the difference. Counsel will let you know how to comply with the TCPA and similar statutes, and how to insulate yourself from personal liability. Moreover, an experienced attorney will ensure that you are optimally protected through indemnity clauses and other contractual provisions that will minimize the chance that the actions of a third-party marketer will expose you to liability.
Of further note, the courts will look to the affirmative efforts of an officer/owner to determine whether he/she directed the acts which resulted in the alleged telemarketing violation. Working closely with seasoned marketing lawyers is a critical component of developing such a defense and presenting evidence of compliance.
This topic should be of interest to any company or individual engaging in a commercial venture within the United States, especially those involved in the and telemarketing industry.