Consumers File Class Action Lawsuit Over Robocalls

Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

In a new class action lawsuit, plaintiffs claim that Cox Communications Inc., a cable and telecommunications company, uses an “automatic telephone dialing system to place non-emergency calls to numbers assigned to a cellular telephone service, without prior express consent.”

An Arizona plaintiff alleges Cox made calls to her cell phone on a number of occasions between July 2015 and May 2016, in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), passed in 1991 and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, places restrictions on telephone solicitations, and limits the use of automatic dialing systems, artificial or prerecorded voice messages, text messages, and fax machines. Among its provisions, the TCPA prohibits solicitors from calling residences before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., local time, and the act sets requirements for Do Not Call lists. The TCPA and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations prohibit anyone (including charities, politicians and political parties) from making robocalls to cell phone numbers without the recipients’ prior consent. The FCC permits non-commercial robocalls to most residential (non-cellular) telephone lines.

The TCPA prohibits automated calls, pre-recorded messages and text messages to cell phones. The law applies to all cell phones whether they are for business or personal use. In essence, a telemarketer or debt collector violates the law every time it makes an automated robocall, pre-recorded message, or text message to a consumer’s cell phone, unless the consumer previously gave the telemarketer or debt collector permission to call. In cases where consent has been previously given, the consumer can revoke that consent by notifying the telemarketer or debt collector to stop calling the cell phone.

The Arizona plaintiff contends that the calls to her number were intended for another recipient. She argues therefore, that based on the number of telephone calls being made and the additional use of an “artificial or prerecorded voice,” that the defendant placed these calls by using an automatic telephone dialing system.

The TCPA specifically states that if a call is made to a recipient or out-going caller within the United States that, “It shall be unlawful…to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to any telephone number assigned.”

According to the plaintiff, Cox “placed its calls to plaintiff’s cellular telephone number by using equipment which has the capacity to 1) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator, and 2) to dial such numbers.” The Arizona woman also asserts that a “complex set of algorithms” allowed Cox to ascertain the best time at which, “a consumer will answer the phone and a person will be available to take the call.” The lawsuit states that Cox made at least 17 calls to the plaintiff’s cellular phone. These calls were allegedly made for non-emergency purposes.

Moreover, Cox used the “automatic telephone dialing system,” and contacted the plaintiff while they had no business relationship whatsoever. What relationship transpired was that of having injured and suffering from, “an invasion of privacy, an intrusion into her life, and a private nuisance,” the complaint asserts.

Consumers have long battled with telemarketers, businesses, and fundraisers over unwelcome calls. They resent the persistent calls at inopportune moments, sometimes well outside normal business hours. Phone scammers often target the elderly, cheating many out of substantial sums of money. Before the TCPA and the Do Not Call list, people were bothered by calls, especially in the evening at dinnertime, when callers know someone was more likely to be home. Many people have unlimited calling on their cell phones, but those who must pay for incoming calls resent the expense of unwanted calls. Despite the Do Not Call list, many business and telemarketers ignore the law or evade consent requirements. Nonprofit organizations are exempt from calling restrictions.

The plaintiff filed the class action individually and on behalf of all those similarly situated. The Cox TCPA class action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

Legal Help for Fighting Robocalls

If you have been bothered by robocalls or other violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, please contact the attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP for a free, no obligation evaluation of your options. Fill out the online contact form to schedule a call at your convenience or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).