Bernhoft Law Wins Big Against a Vexatious TCPA Litigant
October 28th, 2022
Congress passed The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) in 1991 to protect consumers from unwanted telephone solicitations. Since that time a class of litigants has arisen who’ve made a “cottage industry” of suing groups that employ telephone solicitations to market services or for fundraising. These “professional plaintiffs” actually invite telephone calls so they can manufacture a lawsuit under the TCPA, often purchasing multiple “burner” phones and setting up recording devices to record inbound telephone calls. Far from congressional intent to protect innocent consumers, these vexatious litigants have turned the TCPA’s purpose on its head and clogged the state and federal courts with thousands of lawsuits.
Recognizing that the cost of defending these manufactured TCPA lawsuits is high, these litigants hope to “shake down” the organizations and telemarketers for settlements that are less than the cost of defense, hoping for quick cash settlements. Some organizations and telemarketers have wisely decided to fight these frivolous lawsuits, rather than settle them out to avoid paying the legal fees and costs to defend.
The International Union of Police Associations (“IUPA”) is one such organization. Tired of the frequent “shake down” attempts by these unscrupulous individuals, they decided to fight back, and started by hiring Bernhoft Law – a premier national litigation boutique with broad experience in defending TCPA and related lawsuits. The result? This plaintiff’s TCPA lawsuit was dismissed on summary judgment by the Chief Judge of the federal District of Rhode Island.
The decision notes the “hundreds of lawsuits” the plaintiff had filed, and significantly, that the plaintiff actually invited the supposedly unwanted calls by purchasing multiple “burner phones” and setting up recording devices. Far from being harmed by the calls, the plaintiff took affirmative steps to receive the calls in order to manufacture a TCPA claim and file the lawsuit. The federal Court concluded that this deprived the plaintiff of legal standing to sue and dismissed the lawsuit entirely on IUPA’s motion for summary judgment.
Telemarketers are generally not popular with the public, but they and the organizations they work for have rights too. Hopefully more organizations and fundraisers decide to fight back against this abuse of federal law, policy, and purpose. You can check out the actual Order and the Law360 article regarding this important decision below.
For more information, please contact Bernhoft Law.