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Judge Certifies Class in TCPA Suit Over Collection Calls

A District Court judge in California has certified a class-action lawsuit, alleging a creditor violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act when collection agencies working on its behalf made calls to the cell phones of individuals using an automated telephone dialing system without first obtaining the proper consent to do so and who never gave their number to the creditor in the first place.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Brown v. DirecTV can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received calls on her cell phone from a collection agency, seeking to collect on an unpaid debt. The plaintiff, however, “has no relationship with” the defendant “and there is no contract between Plaintiff and Defendant, for arbitration or otherwise.”

Calling it “historic” and a “first-of-its’-kind” certification, Eric Troutman from Squire Patton Boggs writes:

Never before has a multi-source TCPA debt collection class action of this sort been certified. On the contrary, there are at least a dozen cases holding that certification of a suit of this sort is not possible. And the Brown court’s own analysis—recognizing that consent can be obtained after the time of application—seems to emphasize exactly why: consent for each and every call may have arisen in myriad ways at any time before each challenged call was made.

The class includes:

All persons residing within the United States who, within four years prior to and after the filing of this action, received a non-emergency telephone call(s) from DIRECTV and/or its third-party debt collectors regarding a debt allegedly owed to DIRECTV, to a cellular phone through the use of an artificial or prerecorded voice and who did not provide the cellular phone number called on an initial application for DIRECTV service.

Holding the creditor accountable for the skiptracing efforts of the collection agencies it uses and the phone numbers that those efforts produce is not an individualized issue, the judge ruled.

Under the written disclosures and terms and conditions, customers of the defendant “did not expressly consent to receiving prerecorded calls on their cellular phone when they accepted” the terms of service between 2007 and 2011. The defendant changed its terms of service in 2011 so that customers did consent to receiving “such calls on their cellular phone if the customer or authorized user provided Defendant with that phone number.”

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