So I was looking at the stats from WebRecon today and I couldnt help but notice the MASSIVE disparity between the percentage of TCPA cases that are filed as class actions versus other kinds of suits.
For FDCPA cases, for instance, only 8.2% of cases filed in June, 2023 were class actions. 7.3% in July, 2023 and 8.8% were class actions in August, 2023.
The percentage of FCRA cases filed as class actions was even lower–only 2.2% of FCRA cases were class actions in June and July, 2023 and just 3.5% were in August, 2023.
On the other hand a whopping 58.1% of TCPA cases were class actions in June, 2023, 66.2% in July and 58.2% in August.
In other words, TCPA cases are ten times more likely to be filed as class actions than other forms of consumer protection suits.
The question, of course, is why?
While there are a number of factors in play here, I can think of at least three reasons:
- A violation of the FDCPA and FCRA are, at least in some instances, likely to cause meaningful harm to a Plaintiff. In a FCRA case the harm might be in the form of damaged credit and an inability to make a major purchase. A violation of the FDCPA might result in a valid claim of harassment or even the loss of a job. This makes pursuit of these cases on an individual basis attractive because damages might be quite high individually. Under the TCPA, of course, no one is ever really damaged by a phone call. Folks just feel annoyed that their phone received a call they didnt ask for. So these cases are always about statutory damages–which are more naturally obtained across an entire class than in the individual damage setting under the FDCPA and FRCA.
- The TCPA waters are swimming with sophisticated plaintiffs lawyers that really know how to pursue class litigation. Since the TCPA is the richest oilfield for plaintiff’s law firms it naturally attracts the heaviest hitters out there. So where as less sophisticated and smaller firms might pursue the relatively small payouts afforded by the FDCPA and FRCA cases, the TCPA attracts the monsters. And the monsters are not afraid to bring class actions.
- But the biggest reason–I suspect-is that the TCPA does not provide attorneys fees to a successful plaintiff. To be assured of a large recovery, therefore, Plaintiff’s lawyers are much more likely to pursue a class action as supposed to an individual suit. Matters are different under the FCRA and FDCPA where attorneys fees are always awarded to a prevailing plaintiff. So in a weird way the lack of an attorney fee provision under the TCPA may actually lead to a higher number of class actions being filed under the statute!
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Also, big news tomorrow. Stay tuned.