A petition has been submitted to the Supreme Court to hear arguments in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act case that determined incentive awards for named plaintiffs are unlawful.
A copy of the petition in the matter of Johnson v. Dickenson can be accessed by clicking here.
More than two years ago, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled in a TCPA case involving a debt collector that incentive awards for named plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits are illegal under Supreme Court precedent that was set more than 130 years ago.
The suit in question alleged the debt collector violated the TCPA by using an automated telephone dialing system to contact the plaintiff on his cell phone without his consent. Eight months after the suit was filed, the parties reached a settlement, in which the defendant would pay $1.4 million. Of that total, $6,000 would go to the named plaintiff, 30% would go to the plaintiff’s attorneys, and the rest would go to members of the class who did not opt out of the settlement. Only one individual opted out of the settlement and she appealed the ruling to the Eleventh Circuit.
The Eleventh Circuit denied an en banc request in the case earlier this year, which led to the petition being filed with the Supreme Court to hear arguments. The question that the petitioner would like the Supreme Court to answer is, are incentive payments in class-action settlements unlawful or sometimes permissible subject to judicial oversight, which is how every other circuit court — except for the Eleventh — handles such awards?