A jury awarded $20.5 million last month in a post-Spokeo Telephone Consumer Protection Act class action against Dish Network over 51,000 unwanted phone calls. The jury awarded $400 for each unwanted call placed by authorized Dish dealer Satellite Systems Network. In response to the question, “Was SSN acting as Dish’s agent when it made the telephone calls at issue from May 11, 2010, through Aug. 1, 2011?” the jury answered, “Yes.” Brian Glasser, one of the Plaintiffs’ lawyers, had this to say:
Dish’s authorized retailer program was a corporate shell game, developed so Dish could have all the benefits of illegal telemarketing – the customers – but shoulder none of the responsibility for violating the law.
Plaintiff Thomas Krakauer said that he was called over and over despite his presence on the Do Not Call registry. He said that Dish was responsible in no uncertain terms for the actions of SSN. It was stated in the complaint:
Dish took the view that compliance was the dealers’ responsibility, and fell back on self-serving contractual provisions to attempt to shield itself from liability for the illegal telemarketing conducted on its behalf.
Even after signing an “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance” after getting in hot water with 48 state attorneys general in 2009, the company continued to turn a blind eye to its dealers’ flagrant violations. After the Spokeo decision, however, Dish believed it had a good chance of getting the suit dismissed. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a consumer could not sue Spokeo Inc. for mere technical violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but left the door open for Plaintiffs in other cases to use statutory violations to establish standing, finding that the Ninth Circuit used an incomplete analysis when it ruled consumers can sue companies without alleging actual injury.
Dish filed a motion in June of 2016 asking for decertification of classes that had been approved in September 2015 by U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles, telling the judge:
When this court certified the two classes in this case, it rejected DISH’s objections to standing, holding that ‘where the statutory language provides a clear answer [as to standing], [the] analysis begins and ends with that language.’ The Supreme Court has now clarified that statutory language alone is insufficient to convey standing.
In August, Judge Eagles denied Dish’s motion and stated. “These calls form concrete injuries because unwanted telemarketing calls are a disruptive and annoying invasion of privacy.” Dish moved for an interlocutory appeal of that ruling, which Judge Eagles also denied. Krakauer is represented by Brian Glasser, Matthew McCue, Matthew Norris, Ryan Donovan, John Roddy and John Barrett of Bailey & Glasser and Edward A. Broderick and Anthony Paronich of Broderick & Paronich. They did an exceptional job in this case. The case is Krakauer v. Dish Network LLC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.
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