The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has upheld a lower court’s ruling that the defendants in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act case acted in bad faith and should have a default judgment of $828,801.36 entered against them.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Mey v. Judson Phillips, Capital Compliance Group et al. can be accessed by clicking here.
The backstory on this case is long — it took the Appeals Court nearly 18 pages to lay it all out — but suffice to say the plaintiff filed suit after receiving debt relief telemarketing calls and that’s where the problems started. The defendants used “evasive discovery tactics” and “relentless sandbagging” that led a Magistrate judge to issue multiple orders to compel and led the Appeals Court to find that the defendants demonstrated “a continued pattern of discovery abuse that we simply cannot chalk up to inadvertence or mistake.”
The plaintiff continued receiving calls from the defendant for more than a year after the suit was filed, leading her to file two amended complaints to include new calls and new defendants. Among the tactics used by the defendants were to answer discovery requests in the present tense, thus “depriving” the plaintiff of discovery about the relevant time period, and failing to produce certain records. Some of the defendants failed to disclose interest in other affiliates, and withheld nearly 2,500 pages of bank records.
A District Court judge entered a judgment of $828,801.36, reflecting $287,531.22 in TCPA penalties and $425,475.58 in penalties subject to the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
The Appeals Court rejected each of the arguments put forth by the defendants, including that the sanctions imposed were too harsh, saying that the record contradicted each of the arguments and that the defendants had fair warning that sanctions may be imposed.