One robocall is irritating, but 163 robocalls can make for a massive legal judgment against the caller. In a lawsuit against Time Warner Cable, Araceli King argued that the telecommunications behemoth violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by placing 163 cell phone robocalls to Ms. King’s cell phone without her permission.
According to court documents, a consumer agrees to Time Warner Cable’s terms of service when they sign up with the company. The terms of service included a provision that said that, if a customer asks to have their number placed on the do not call list, they won’t call that number.
Time Warner Cable uses an interactive voice response calling system to make robocalls about past due accounts. The system checks with Time Warner Cable’s billing records to determine which customers are past due, and then dials the number associated with the account. In her lawsuit, filed by Lemberg Law, Ms. King said that she had received 163 phone calls from Time Warner Cable using this system, and that each time she listened to the voicemail, it said it was looking for a person that Ms. King didn’t know, but that (it turns out) used to have the same cell phone number. After receiving 10 calls, Ms. King called Time Warner Cable and told a representative that she was not the person they were looking for, and asked that all calls to her cell phone in regard to that account stop.
Not only did the calls not stop, but they continued even after Ms. King filed suit against Time Warner Cable. In fact, the company called her 74 more times after being sued.
Time Warner Cable admitted to calling Ms. King, but argued that 93 of the calls didn’t violate the TCPA because their dialing system wasn’t an automated dialing system under the TCPA. The company also argued that, because the customer who was the intended recipient of the calls had agreed to receive calls at Ms. King’s phone number, the calls weren’t a violation of the TCPA. In other words, they argued that the TCPA only applied to the intended recipient, not the actual recipient.
Time Warner Cable asked the court to stay the proceedings because the Federal Communication Commission, which promulgates TCPA regulations, was in the process of submitting information to an appellate court. The judge denied that motion, and instead granted Ms. King’s motion for summary judgment, awarding her $500 for the 10 calls made before she asked Time Warner Cable to stop calling, and three times that amount for each of the 153 calls after that time. As a result, Ms. King was awarded $229,500.
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