SAN DIEGO – A real estate agent says he did not give a Valencia company permission to call him and claims the company violated TCPA. Adding insult to injury; the company allegedly offered him a $200 gift card in exchange for contact information to one of his most recent clients.
On Jan. 25, Erik Knutson filed a complaint and included others who have faced a similar situation against Blue Light Security in the U.S. District Court for California’s Southern District. He alleges Blue Light Security violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and is holding Blue Light responsible because he alleges the security company did not have permission to call his cellphone. He is seeking a trial by jury and wants $500 in statutory damages, injunctive recovery, $1,500 in treble damages, and any other relief the court finds justifiable.
Some legal experts call the TCPA one of the most dangerous statues on the books primarily since not only is there a four-year statute of limitations, but minimum damages are set at $500 per violation, which could be staggering for companies facing TCPA litigation. A major challenge of TCPA is the ambiguities that have courts across the country confused. Such perplexity is creating a litigation storm, resulting in skyrocketing TCPA filings.
The increase in TCPA filings may lead one to believe that the ambiguous language of the statute is helping to encourage frivolous lawsuits. Despite the increase in cases, Attorney Octavio ‘Tav’ Gomez told The Northern California Record, that he is not convinced there is a correlation, but a result "of people becoming educated on their rights.”
“People are starting to understand how to exploit the law,” he said.
Gomez is head of the consumer protection department at Morgan and Morgan, based in Tampa, Florida. He believes one of the greatest goals is to help educate the judge because he says, “Most judges do not understand requesting $500 - $1,500 for each phone call.”
Advocates of the right to privacy act view the cases as a way of “shaking up the industry.”
No one likes to be harassed, so Gomez says "people will pay.” Furthermore, big banks and collection agencies have profited from the use of predictive dialers, the same type of automated device allegedly used to call the plaintiff. Gomez says it is rare for a company to use the outdated auto dialers. He believes “99.9 percent of the companies are using predictive dialers, and it is likely that the Blue Light Security company purchased a contact list and input the numbers into the system and that is how the plaintiff was called.”
Some law firms will stay TCPA litigation while the Federal Communications Commission can resolve a pending question. However, Gomez believes there is little to no benefit to using the strategy to stay.
“As an attorney for the plaintiff, I don’t agree with staying the litigation," he said. "However, the defense will try to delay, because the appeal will be appealed.”
The strategy could help the defense if the plaintiff forgets about it or loses interest as the process of the case is drawn out.