Judge Denies Summary Judgment In TCPA Case Over Limited Scope of Contact

A federal judge in the Southern District of Indiana has denied a summary judgment motion from a defendant after it was sued for allegedly violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by contacting the nanny of an account holder using an automated telephone dialing system (ATDS) in an attempt to collect on an unpaid account.

The nanny had provided consent to be contacted by the defendant — Charter Communications — but only in relation to troubleshooting problems when the cable or Internet went out. The owner of the account — a Mr. Craig — had, with the nanny’s permission, authorized the defendant to communicate with her in the event of a problem.

The owner of the account fell behind on his payments and the plaintiff started receiving calls from the defendant related to the unpaid debt. She would press “1” as directed by the ATDS to speak to a representative, in which she would confirm that the phone number was hers, but the account was not, and that the calls should be directed to him. The plaintiff estimated receiving between 75 and 1,000 calls from the defendant.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Benedetti v. Charter Communications can be accessed by clicking here.

The defendant moved for summary judgment because the plaintiff consented to being contacted on her cell phone. Judge Robert Miller ruled that it is incumbent upon the defendant to prove that the plaintiff consented to receiving calls “relating to late or missing payments, as well as for ‘troubleshooting,’ which is the extent of Ms. Benedetti’s testimony.”

In this case, the plaintiff had no idea what the account owner told the defendant about the conditions under which it could contact the plaintiff. As Judge Miller wrote, “Ms. Benedetti testified as to what she asked Mr. Craig to do and what Mr. Craig told her he had done, but the summary judgment record contains nothing regarding what Mr. Craig actually said to Charter about the use to which Ms. Benedetti’s name and cell phone number might be put.”

 

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