Time Warner Must Pay Customer $1500 Per Illegal Call

In King v. Time Warner Cable (decided in the Southern District of New York on July 7, 2015), Time Warner was ordered to pay $229,500 to the plaintiff for making 153 calls to her in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The ruling was issued in response to the plaintiff’s summary judgment motion.

The plaintiff was a Time Warner cable television subscriber and had provided her telephone number to the company, but the autodialed calls she received on her cell phone were seeking a completely unrelated person who listed the same phone number and then stopped paying Time Warner’s bills.

After receiving ten calls, the plaintiff asked Time Warner to stop calling her cell phone, but the calls continued. She then filed a lawsuit, but the calls still continued. The court reckoned that 74 of the calls were placed after Time Warner was served with the lawsuit.

Time Warner sought to minimize its damages by arguing that only calls actually answered by the plaintiff should be counted as legal violations.  The court rejected that argument, holding that Time Warner “violated the statute each time it placed a call using its [autodialer] without consent, regardless of whether the call was answered by a person, a machine, or not at all.”

All 153 calls that were made after the plaintiff verbally told Time Warner to stop calling were held to be TCPA violations. (The first ten calls that preceded the verbal notice were not included in the plaintiff’s victory).  The court then decided to grant the plaintiff the maximum amount allowable under the TCPA—treble damages of $1500 per call, for a total of $229,500.

In awarding summary judgment to the plaintiff, the court explained its ruling as follows: “[Time Warner] had knowledge through its agent that [plaintiff] did not consent to further robo-calls. Therefore, Defendant's subsequent calls were knowing violations and treble damages are appropriate. [Time Warner’s] defense is further belied by its conduct after March 26, 2014, when [plaintiff] served the company with the Summons and Complaint in this action. [Time Warner’s] assertion that it lacked knowledge of non-consent after that date is incredible. Defendant harassed plaintiff with robo-calls until she had to resort to a lawsuit to make the calls stop, and even then [Time Warner] could not be bothered to update the information in its system. The calls placed after March 26, 2014 are particularly egregious violations of the TCP A and indicate that [Time Warner] simply did not take this lawsuit seriously. Treble damages are unquestionably appropriate to reflect the seriousness of [Time Warner’s] willful violations.

 Time Warner learned a costly lesson here, but it is big enough to take the hit.  Is your business? As we have cautioned in the past, this ruling shows that companies placing autodialed calls must train their representatives to record and implement do-not-call requests.

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