Well, here’s a bit of good news.
For a time First Orion was offering a “call blocking” service through Metro PCS called BlockIT. While BlockIT purported to be a garden variety call blocker something more lurked beneath the service—a lawyer referral feature that would turn blocked calls into leads for class action lawyers. As highlighted in deposition testimony in my bigin’ in Tillman v. Ally, the consumer was often times unaware that hitting a “complaint” button within the app would trigger contact from a lawyer:
“Did you expect that you would receive a text message in response to pressing the complaint button?” Tillman was asked in his deposition.
“Yeah, but I thought it would be from, like, Ally or whoever was calling,” he responded.
My old website TCPAland focused on this practice in its interview with Hiya CEO Alex Algard. The intrepid Mr. Algard pledged to never cosign his call blocking services to consumer lawyers to turn a quick (and greasy) buck.
Somehow Forbes got wind of the Tillman case that first exposed the unseemly (my opinion) practices being engaged in by First Orion. (I didn’t tip them off, I promise.) Now that it is in the public sphere, however, I am proud to say that my team was able to gather the facts necessary to put an end to First Orion’s conduct in Florida, where it was apparently improperly operating as an undisclosed lawyer referral service. The ultimate victory came when we were able to defeat certification of the wrong number code class in favor of Ally—although not on adequacy grounds but on predominance grounds.
The article is a must read for anyone that wants to better understand the seedy underbelly of TCPA class action referral services and how consumers are often tricked into serving as class representatives. My hat is off to Ally Financial for having the guts to fight this case the way they did and I remain most proud of the result we were able to earn in that case as well as the pound-the-pavement sleuthing and discovery work that got it done.
Notably, this is my second big TCPA win to be featured in Forbes. The first involved the famous case of Melody Stoops, who acquired over 80 cell phones and kept them in a shoe box in a bid to sue unsuspecting callers trying to reach former subscribers to the phone. “It’s my business,” she told us in deposition. Not anymore. We shut that scam down in Stoops v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 197 F. Supp.3d 782 (W.D. Pa. 2016), and Forbes gave us a little love for doing so.
Just another day serving as the Czar of a strange place called TCPAWorld. I love my job.