On September 30, 2014, AT&T Mobility filed a proposed settlement agreement in a Montana federal court which will likely end a class-action lawsuit brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"). According to the proposed settlement agreement, AT&T Mobility will pay a whopping $45 million into a settlement fund, which will be used to pay legal fees and the claims of the proposed class. The parties in the litigation estimate that the class of consumers eligible to receive settlement funds is roughly 16,000 people. The settlement has yet to be approved by the district court.
In the complaint, plaintiff Joel Hageman is alleged to have "received over fifty-three (53) calls on his cellular phone in under two years." The plaintiff alleged that he did not provide AT&T Mobility with consent to call his cellular phone and, in fact, was not an AT&T Mobility customer. The plaintiff alleged that over the two year period at issue, he called AT&T Mobility "three or four times to inform them that he is not an AT&T customer and to request that the calls cease." AT&T Mobility did not deny these allegations in full. Instead, according to AT&T Mobility, "a handful of clerks" at one retail store in Montana entered the plaintiff's cellular telephone number as a secondary contact for new customers who did not have a secondary contact telephone number, rather than using 000-000-0000 as instructed. AT&T Mobility offered no explanation for this ongoing error in court documents, but it did "produce more than 40,000 pages of documents through formal discovery . . . ."
The TCPA Settlement
After the plaintiff's expert provided a report and was deposed by AT&T Mobility, the parties conducted a one-day long mediation which led to the ultimate resolution of the case. Of the $45 million settlement fund, counsel for the plaintiff will receive $15 million as attorneys' fees and costs. The lead plaintiff will receive an "incentive award" of up to $20,000, and remaining class members are eligible to receive up to $500 per call. AT&T Mobility made no admissions and attained a release as a result of the settlement.
As we have previously noted in this blog, TCPA class action cases are on the rise, and settling such claims can be expensive. Although the facts of this particular matter are unique, competent and experienced telemarketing counsel should be retained to navigate the procedural intricacies of the TCPA in any court of law.
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