Imagine opening your mailbox and finding a check for over $550.00 directed to you. No gimmicks. No strings. No catch. $550.00 big ones.
Well that’s the experience 750 (lucky?) people are about to have following a TCPA settlement involving unwanted calls to their cell phones.
In Jewell v HSN, Inc. 3:19-cv-00247 (D. Wisc.), the Plaintiff argued that Home Shopping Network kept calling folks after flagging their numbers “Never Call.” This flag was, apparently, used when someone asked for calls to stop. But the calls kept coming to about 750 people.
Defendant claimed the calls were “inadvertent” and they probably were—I mean why would you have a “never call” flag if you just intended to keep calling?—but that didn’t stop Defendant from settling the suit. It happens.
What is extraordinary about the settlement, however, is the large per dollar value here. Although class members are expected to recover $550.00 bucks each, the settlement amounts to $933.00 per class member (the rest of the money will go to pay lawyers and administration costs.) By comparison the “average” TCPA settlement comes in around $6-$75.00 a class member, depending on the “type” of settlement you’re dealing with. Even more extraordinary—this settlement comes in with an appeal to SCOTUS pendingand favorable case law developing on the ATDS issue nationwide.
But this isn’t just good lawyering by the Greenwald Davidson Radbil team (as assisted, I was reminded, by Lein Law Offices out there in Wisconsin)—although those guys are always dangerous—notice that the class size here is very small. A mere 750 people. Frankly this is the size TCPA classes should be because very rarely are more than 1,000 folks going to be truly impacted by the same precise set of facts. Usually consumer lawyers pig out in these cases, however, and include a huge number of unimpacted class members (i.e. those lacking any valid claim) which dilutes the per-class member settlement value. Sometimes this is unavoidable—often times those individuals with truly “valid” claims cannot be found within a population of “mostly unharmed” class members. In my opinion such cases should never be brought—much less settled or certified—but I’m just one guy. An incredibly knowledgeable guy with a cool website. But just one guy, nonetheless. My opinion is not (yet) legally binding.
Notice, however, that when you focus on an extremely small set of people that really did receive illegal calls there is far less dilution of the value of each claim. So instead of $6.00, each injured class member is going to receive north of $500.00. Yikes.
Off the top of my head, this may be the best per-class member recovery since the old Hageman deal and—perhaps most remarkably—this is not a claims made settlement. Class members don’t have to do a thing to get their money. Just open their mailbox and cash their check. Now that’s something.
For the curious, the preliminary approval papers are here: DE 29 02-06-20 Motion for preliminary approval of class action settlement