Not Exactly Even–TCPA Defendant Recovers a Little over $1,000 in Costs After Defeating Years-Long Nationwide TCPA Class Action

A TCPA defendant faces the prospect of a nationwide class action of thousands of individuals seeking to recover (collectively) millions of dollars in statutory fines, attorneys’ fees, and interest.  To defeat that kind of lawsuit, a TCPA defendant will invest years, extensive company resources, and hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees.   Yet the individual who files the underlying TCPA lawsuit faces no comparable downside risk.

This dynamic played out recently in Florida in Northrup v. Innovative Health Ins. Partners, LLC, No. 8:17-cv-1890-T-36JSS, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82596 (M.D. Fla. March 26, 2020).  The lead plaintiff there filed suit after allegedly receiving text messages that violated the TCPA.  After several years of litigation–including the certification of a nationwide class of similarly situated individuals–the defendants prevailed on summary judgment.  The trial court held that the “text messages at issue were not sent with an automatic telephone dialing system.”

Yet when the defendant companies moved to recover a modest portion of their costs, the trial court trimmed the award down to just $1,156.  Despite the defendant’s clear victory, the Court quibbled with numerous expenses, including declining to award “print and copy fees” because the defendant did not meet its “burden” of establishing the $78.26 in such costs.

This case provides a stark reminder of the disparate risks facing parties to a TCPA lawsuit .

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