A class-action lawsuit filed against one of the nation’s largest banking institutions was resolved late last month in a Florida federal court. JP Morgan Chase reached a settlement of over $3 million in response to the accusation that the bank used an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to call cell phone numbers that had been reassigned to people who did not consent to receive communication from them.
In James v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA it was alleged that the national bank violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act when it used an auto dialer to place phone calls to people who had not consented to hear from the company. Although the calls were intended for its own clientele, several people who had not agreed to such calls were reached instead. Among them were Nichole Seniuk and Michelle James, the leading plaintiffs. According to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), solicitation calls to cellular phone numbers are not permissible without express written consent. The TCPA specifically aims to restrict telephone solicitations for the purpose of marketing, as well as the use of autodialers for such purposes.
This law was enacted in 1991 by President George H. W. Bush to protect consumers in an age where avenues for communication were multiplying in number. In this case specifically, Chase called 675,000 unique cell phone numbers from January 1, 2014 through March 22, 2016. Although these numbers were originally linked with active Chase client accounts, it turned out they had been reassigned at the time the call or were just the wrong number. Typically, Chase policy requires employees to highlight these numbers as being incorrect. A policy to protect these new telephone numbers from being contacted further also exists.
Records were discovered showing that Chase did in fact indicate these numbers were not to be contacted as they were not the numbers of their clients who had consented to their calls. Chase fervently denied any wrongdoing, presenting a series of defenses, among them the 2015 FCC Order which includes a safety net for single calls made to reassigned cell phones such as the ones in this case. Chase also stands to argue that some of the calls were exempted from the TCPA as they were for emergency purposes. This exemption protects calls from banks to consumers about potential fraud on their accounts.
Still, James and Seniuk continuously received calls, despite informing the Chase representatives that they had reached a wrong number and requesting them to stop. Between March and April of 2015, Seniuk allegedly received 60 calls from the bank, while James received two calls in one day in the month of June, and several other calls at other times.
The settlement is not an admission of guilt on Chase’s part, as they are not admitting to or being held liable for any TCPA violations under this suit. The $3.75 million is to be distributed among the estimated 675, 000 class members, as well as it will be used to cover administration costs and attorneys’ fees and expenses. Seniuk and James, however, will be awarded $5,000 each.
If you are receiving calls to your personal cell phone from a company you did not expressly permit to contact you, you may be entitled to substantial compensation of between $500 and $1500 per call. Jibrael S. Hindi, a Fort Lauderdale attorney specializing in consumer protection laws including the TCPA will quickly determine whether you have a case or not. Call The Law Offices of Jibrael S. Hindi at (844) JIBRAEL for a free legal consultation. At our law firm, you don’t ever pay us unless YOU get paid!