AT&T to Pay $45 Million to Resolve Claims Of Robocalling Consumers Without Consent

Oct. 1 — In yet another high-priced Telephone Consumer Protection Act settlement, AT&T Mobility LLC would under a Sept. 30 federal court proposed agreement pay $45 million to resolve putative class allegations that it called consumers' mobile phones without their consent.

The proposed no-fault settlement, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, joins several other high-dollar-value TCPA class action settlements that received preliminary or final approval in recent months (178 Privacy Law Watch, 9/15/14)(13 PVLR 1592, 9/15/14).

The plaintiffs in a $75 million proposed agreement with Capital One said that, if the court grants final approval, it would be the largest in the TCPA's history (13 PVLR 1414, 8/11/14)(152 Privacy Law Watch, 8/7/14).

Procedures to Prevent Robocalls

The named plaintiff alleged on behalf of a proposed class that AT&T called consumers on their mobile phones using an “automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice” without their prior express consent in violation of the TCPA, 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A).

AT&T continues to deny liability, according to the joint motion for preliminary approval of the settlement. The company, among other arguments, contends that many members of the putative class consented to such calls by providing their mobile phone numbers and that the dialing systems used by AT&T and its outside collection agencies didn't constitute an “automatic telephone dialing system,” according to the motion.

Settlement Terms

The proposed pact defines the settlement class as individuals who received calls from AT&T or one of its outside collection agencies where the person wasn't an AT&T customer at the time of the call and the mobile phone number was listed as a “can be-reached number” on two or more AT&T accounts. The proposed class has about 16,000 members, according to the joint motion.

According to the proposed pact, AT&T “has continued to implement procedures to reduce the prospects that it might call cellular telephone numbers through the use of an automated dialing system in the absence of consent.”

Each class member would be entitled to receive a payment for each call from the $45 million settlement fund, up to $500 per call, after attorneys' fees and costs, an incentive award to the named plaintiff and settlement administration costs were deducted from the fund.

Class counsel would be entitled to request up to $15 million in fees and costs, and the named plaintiff would be entitled to an incentive award up to $20,000.

Bishop & Heenan, Keogh Law Ltd. and Bingham & Lea PC represented the proposed class. Crowley Fleck PLLP and Mayer Brown LLP represented the defendant.

Full text of the proposed class action settlement and release is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Hageman_et_al_v_ATT_et_al_Docket_No_113cv00050_D_Mont_Apr_09_2013.