On April 17, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order granting in part and denying in part several motions pertaining to a class action lawsuit, which accused a debt collection agency (defendant) of violating the TCPA, FDCPA, and the California Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by using repeated robocalls and pre-recorded voices messages to collect debt. As previously covered by InfoBytes, last September the court entered a $267 million final judgment against the defendant, consistent with a jury’s verdict that found the defendant liable for violating the TCPA by making more than 500,000 unsolicited robocalls using autodialers. Under the terms of the judgment each class member was awarded $500 per call. The defendant argued that the award was unconstitutionally excessive and violated due process, and requested that the court reduce the per violation amount. The court was unpersuaded and upheld the judgment, stating that the defendant failed to identify (and the court could not find) any “Ninth Circuit authority on how a district court should reduce damages that are found to be unconstitutionally excessive.” While acknowledging that the award was “significant,” the court stated that it also “evidences the fervor with which the United States Congress was attempting to regulate the use of autodialers for non-consensual calls” and that “the unilateral slashing of an award does not only ignore the plain words of the statute, the task is devoid of objectivity.” Among other actions, the court granted the defendant’s request to amend the final judgment to reflect that allegations concerning “willful and/or knowing violations of the TCPA” were dismissed with prejudice and that the defendant succeeded at summary judgment on the FDCPA and state law claims. However, the court denied the defendant’s request to release any surplus or residue amounts not distributed to a class member back to the company. The court also approved the class counsel’s motion for more than $89 million in attorneys’ fees and non-taxable costs of $277,416.28, and awarded the named plaintiff a $25,000 service award.
April 25, 2020 District court says $267 million robocall verdict is not unconstitutionally excessive