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The days of large robocall class action settlements are not over. Keller Williams Realty, Inc. (“Keller Williams“) recently sought approval to settle a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). The case is styled Beverly DeShay v. Keller Williams Realty, Inc. and was filed in state court in Florida. The Complaint alleges that real estate agents from Keller Williams made unsolicited, prerecorded telephone calls to consumers without their consent, including to those registered on the Do Not Call registry. The Complaint further alleges that “Keller Williams, through its training and coaching programs, in effect provides a marketing plan to realtors affiliated with its franchisees that involves unsolicited telemarketing.” The plaintiff sought to certify two classes: one related to consumers who received prerecorded calls and the other for those on the National Do Not Call Registry who received calls.
Pursuant to the documents filed requesting approval of the settlement, Keller Williams was to make $40,000,000 available for the benefit of the settlement class, as defined in the settlement agreement. In addition to the monetary payment, Keller Williams agreed to certain non-monetary relief. Among other things, Keller Williams agreed to create a TCPA task force and to provide materials to its franchisees about TCPA and Do Not Call compliance to use with their independent contractor real estate agents. The court has preliminarily approved the settlement and conditionally certified the classes, with a fairness hearing scheduled for the end of this month. The Complaint and settlement documents are available at the settlement website realtytcpa.com.
Large class action settlements have been routine in TCPA cases. The TCPA, which is essentially a strict-liability statute, generally prohibits autodialed or prerecorded telephone calls to cellular telephones without the recipient’s consent. It also provides statutory damages of $500-$1500 per call. Therefore, if a large volume of calls have been made in violation of the statute, such as during a marketing campaign, the damages quickly multiply. Although some recent case law has assisted defendants in these cases, the Keller Williams case demonstrates that those conducting marketing via phone or text remain vulnerable.
Freeman Mathis & Gary’s attorneys regularly defend clients in TCPA litigation, including in the class action context, and have written other blogs and provided webinars on these topics, which are accessible on the firm’s website. For more information, please contact Matthew Foree.