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By: Matthew Foree
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma recently granted final approval of a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) class action settlement involving several automobile dealerships. The case is King v. Classic Chevrolet, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189783 (N.D. Ok. Oct. 14, 2020).
Among other things, the TCPA prohibits parties from sending telemarketing text messages using an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) without obtaining the recipient’s prior express written consent. The penalties range from $500 to $1500 per violation such that mass texts that are not compliant can be costly.
The Complaint in King alleged violations of the TCPA based on telemarketing text messages that were sent to plaintiff and the class members without prior express written consent. Several examples of the text messages are included in the Complaint. They include solicitations about purchasing a new vehicle, extending auto warranties, and discounts on financing.
The court certified a class of 118,373 members for the purposes of settlement. Case documents reveal that the case settled for $850,000, with just over $283,000 awarded in attorneys’ fees. Although limited information is available from the public case docket, the definition of the settlement class suggests that a third-party marketing company may have been involved in the text campaign.
The settlement serves as a reminder of the potential exposure of businesses that conduct text marketing. These businesses need to ensure strict compliance with the TCPA and its regulations or face the risk of severe penalties. Additionally, to the extent that such businesses rely on third-parties to assist in text marketing campaigns, they should properly vet such third-parties and ensure that those entities strictly comply as well.
Finally, the timing of the settlement in the King case is interesting given that the definition of ATDS is at issue in the Facebook v. Duguid case before the United States Supreme Court, with oral argument scheduled for December 8, 2020. We have previously discussed the importance of the Facebook case here.
If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Matt Foree at [email protected].