A major class-action lawsuit was settled recently when pharmacy giant Walgreens agreed to an $11 million settlement to end a lawsuit initiated in 2013. The class-action suit claimed that the company violated provisions in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA. The pharmacy was accused of placing pre-recorded robocall messages to consumers’ cellular phones to remind customers who have previously refilled their prescriptions at Walgreens that another refill was due. Over 9 million people received these pre-recorded messages, which are illegal under the TCPA.
In July 2013, Robert Kolinek filed a lawsuit against Walgreens for violating the TCPA when the pharmacy left a pre-recorded message to refill his prescription, after nearly a decade since he last filled a prescription at Walgreens pharmacy. He claimed he provided his cell phone because he thought the pharmacy would use it to confirm his identity. Pre-recorded calls started coming in early 2012.
Many of the consumers the class-action suit represented had received unwanted messages just like those received by Kolinek without having unlimited cell phone plans. This is another way that these calls violated the TCPA — the pharmacy targeted any and all phone numbers retrieved from its database of consumers who had had their prescriptions filled, without making the effort to gain consent or make sure that the customers would not be charged for such calls.
Per the TCPA class-action suit, “Walgreens took no steps to obtain, and did not obtain, the prior express consent of these consumers to make such robocalls.” As a defense, the pharmacy claimed that their calls were exempt under the TCPA because their calls were emergency “medical reminders” that would be allowed under the “emergency purposes” exemptions. They argued that if prescriptions went unfilled, customers could face consequences to their health.
U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly ruled there was not enough information to dismiss the lawsuit under this exception and both parties agreed to settle for $11 million. The company also looks to update how consumers can consent to their communications and make it easier for consumers to opt in and out of calls and texts.
If you or someone you know is being harassed by illegitimate phone calls, text messages, or other wireless transmissions, you could stand to receive damages of $500 to $1,500 per TCPA violation. Remember, each call is a TCPA violation. Attorney Jibrael S. Hindi and his team of Fort Lauderdale TCPA attorneys can evaluate your case FOR FREE. You do not pay a dime until Jibrael wins for you! Call 1-844-JIBRAEL or contact us online to get started.