Tired of robocalls and telemarketing calls interrupting his meals, Pennsylvania resident Stewart Abramson filed a federal class action lawsuit Friday in Connecticut against Discount Power Inc. The lawsuit seeks up to $1,500 for every call in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
While almost everyone can relate to getting nuisance calls, experts in creditors’ rights law say the suit faces an uphill battle.
“It’s a tough case to win,” said attorney Myles Alderman Jr., managing member of Alderman and Alderman, which has several offices in Connecticut. “Some courts believe TCPA was not meant for class actions, and that it was intended to protect individuals from abusive phone calls.” Alderman is not involved in the litigation.
The claim says potential class members could include anyone with records of unwanted calls from Discount Power beginning April 27, 2014.
Creditors’ and debtors’ rights attorney Marc Miller, of counsel for Cohen & Wolf, said Monday many potential lawsuits regarding TCPA are settled before they make their way to the courts.
“The amount of money involved is relatively small and, in many cases, it’s an opportunity for some lawyers to collect a quick buck,” said Miller, who represented a defendant in a similar case related to unwanted faxes, but is not involved in the Abramson case.
Each TCPA violation can cost a defendant $500, while each willful violation costs $1,500, so most cases settle.
“If it’s $1,500 we are talking about, the plaintiff will get $1,000 and the attorney $500 and no lawsuit is filed,” Miller said. “It’s not worth it for the defendants to fight it.”
Attorneys for Abramson filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in the District of Connecticut in Bridgeport.
But proving those violations are not as easy as it might seem, Miller said.
“You must show it was done willfully to get the $1,500 per call,” Miller said. “There is some way the defendants got that phone number. You have to prove they did not get that number by some actions you have undertaken. That is not always easy to do.”
Friday’s lawsuit alleges Discount Power called Abramson several times without first getting consent, as required under the TCPA. Abramson wrote Discount Power, which offers low-cost electricity options, asking if it had any evidence he consented to receive the unwanted calls at home, according to the suit. Discount Power never responded, the complaint states.
The lawsuit also states Discount Power violated TCPA because the company making the call never identified itself.
“In order to find out who has called him, Mr. Abramson pressed ‘five’ in response to the prerecorded message that he received on March 16,” the complaint states. “Mr. Abramson spoke with a telemarketing agent who said that he was with Discount Power.”
The lawsuit cites one count: violation of the TCPA’s prerecorded call provisions. The suit seeks injunctive relief prohibiting the use of prerecorded messages by Discount Power and up to $1,500 for each violation, or phone call.
No one from Discount Power’s legal department responded to a request for comment Monday. The company’s attorney, Nancy Hancock of Pullman & Comley in Bridgeport, did not respond to a request for comment.
The plaintiff has three attorneys: Todd Michaelis of Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey in Waterbury, Anthony Paronich of Broderick & Paronich in Boston, and Matthew McCue of The Law Office of Matthew McCue in Natick, Massachusetts. McCue referred all comments to Paronich, who declined to comment. Michaelis did not respond to a request for comment.
The case will be heard by Judge Stefan Underhill.