The Good Fight?: Suit over Charity Calls Ends With Nearly a Million in Fees to Class Counsel in TCPA Settlement

According to its website, the Epilepsy Foundation of America works to “save lives through our community services, public education, access to care campaign, research initiatives, and new therapies funding.”

Helping to take care of folks with seizures is a pretty solid use of one’s disposable income, and placing calls to folks in an effort to raise money and awareness for this organization seems relatively saintly. But in TCPAWorld no good deed using a telephone ever goes unpunished.

In Hartranft v. Tvi, Inc., Case No.: SACV 15-01081-CJC-DFM, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68269 (C.D. Cal. April 18, 2019) the Plaintiff apparently received one little old phone call from a charity fundraising organization working with a thrift store trying to raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation. He filed a nationwide TCPA class action against the fundraiser and the thrift store seeking millions.

I wish I was making this up. But I am not.

Well the case settled, as they often do, and last week the Court approved of the mediated settlement agreement reached by the parties. The class lawyers—for their good work pursuing this important case— will receive $900,000.00. The class administrator who is handling the claims process will receive $400,000.00 (although some of that is notice cost) and the guy who brought the lawsuit will get a check for $5k (hey—he was available by phone for the mediation after all.) The class members—you know the folks who actually had to endure that phone call asking for money for the Epilepsy foundation—will receive a coupon for $75.00 in merchandise at the thrift store or $25.00 in cold hard cash.

And the Epilepsy Foundation? It gets zip.

If all of the 747,635 make claims—they won’t—the settlement fund could be as valuable as $56MM in merchandise from the Defendant’s stores. (In the ultimate proof that lawyers can’t do math, the court calculated the value of the settlement fund at $581,072,625 for reasons I cannot fathom.)  That’s a pretty hefty penalty for trying to raise money for charity. Even assuming an average claims rate of 10%, Defendant is looking at a penalty of approximately $5MM for making the phone calls at issue. (The parties valued the settlement at ~$18MM for some reason.)

Usually, I would give my opinion about the lawsuit or the settlement. But I don’t need to on this one. I’m just going to go make a donation to the Epilepsy Foundation and hope all of you will do the same. $25.00 sounds about right.  Stay classy TCPAWorld.



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