In Strauss v. The CBE Group, et al., No. 15-62026, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45085 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 28, 2016), Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants The CBE Group, Inc. (“CBE”) and Verizon New England (“Verizon”) for a series of debt collection calls to a cellular phone. In making these calls, CBE received Plaintiff’s number from Verizon in connection with an account belonging to a third party for collection. When it received Plaintiff’s number, CBE initially believed that the number was a landline belonging to a third-party debtor, and mistakenly placed its first two calls to that number. Id. at *2.
On summary judgment, CBE did not dispute that the first two calls made to Plaintiff were done through its Noble Systems Predictive Dialer. Prior to placing the following 24 calls to Plaintiff’s phone number, CBE determined that Plaintiff’s number was associated with a cell phone. Id. at *2-*3. Once this was determined, CBE switched its dialing application from the Noble Systems Predictive Dialer to its Manual Clicker Application (“MCA”). Placing calls though the MCA required a CBE agent to “manually initiate the call by clicking a computer mouse or pressing a keyboard enter key.” Id. at *3. The MCA would then place the call through a Nobel Systems device. Id. Of these 26 calls in total, only six were answered by Plaintiff, who did not inform CBE that he was not the third-party debtor or that CBE was calling the wrong number. Id.
In granting CBE’s motion for summary judgment on the last 24 calls, the Court found that CBE had “presented substantial evidence that human intervention is essential at the point and time that the number is dialed using the MCA and that the Noble equipment used does not have the functionalities required to classify it as a predictive dialer …” Id. at *13. The Court ultimately granted Plaintiff summary judgment with respect to the first two calls CBE placed through its predictive dialer, for a total of $1000.
The holding and facts involved in Strauss are particularly informative for entities conducting dialing activities to consumers for any reason. The Strauss case underscores the attention companies must give to their dialing practices and the need to adapt with the law and circumstances of their business practices.