After a California jury sided with the plaintiffs in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action against a debt collector, the court entered judgment in the amount of $267 million in damages for the roughly 534,000 calls.
A trio of plaintiffs alleged that Rash Curtis & Associates, a nationwide debt collection company, made the calls using different automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS). Ignacio Perez, one of the named plaintiffs, said he personally received 14 calls using the Global Connect dialer and an artificial or prerecorded voice even though he never had an account with the defendant, which was trying to collect a debt from a third party.
Last year, the case made headlines after U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers held that the service of a TCPA complaint operates as a revocation of consent to receive phone calls from the defendant and granted partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.
In May, a jury sided with the plaintiffs.
In September, the court entered final judgment in favor of the plaintiff and four specific classes for the June 17, 2012, through April 2, 2019, period: persons who received a call on their cellphones from Rash Curtis’ VIC and/or Global Connect dialer and whose number was obtained via skip tracing, persons who received a prerecorded message or robocall on their cellphone number or landline during the same time period and whose number was obtained through skip tracing, and two classes of persons meeting the aforementioned definitions and for whom Rash Curtis never had a debt collection account in their name. The class definitions exclude anyone who had provided their cellphone numbers in an application for credit to a creditor that opened an account with Rash Curtis in the debtor’s name prior to the defendant placing a call.
After the plaintiffs dropped their request for trebled damages, the court ordered that each class member should recover $500 per call for the 534,698 calls, an aggregate award of $267,349,000. Perez was awarded a total of $7,000 for his 14 calls.
The classes and Perez are also entitled to post-judgment interest on the jury’s award at a rate of 2.36 percent per year, Judge Rogers said.
Plaintiffs’ counsel subsequently filed a motion seeking $89 million in attorneys’ fees and costs and a $50,000 service award to Perez from the common fund. How much class members will actually receive is yet to be determined.
To read the final judgment in McMillion v. Rash Curtis & Associates, click here.
Why it matters: The court’s final judgment provides a scary reminder about the potential costs facing TCPA defendants, even without trebled damages.