The $11M Lesson in Telephone Consumer Protection Compliance

Q&A with Michael F. Smith

published in Corporate Counsel | April 8, 2015

National retailer Walgreens recently made headlines when it agreed to settle a Telephone Consumer Protection Action class action lawsuit for $11 million. The lead plaintiff, who provided the national chain with his phone number for identification purposes, filed suit after Walgreens used his number to make robocalls for the purpose of reminding him that his prescription was ready for refill. He claimed such actions violated the TCPA, which requires companies to get “prior express written consent” from the intended recipients of robocalls or automated texts.

Trial lawyer Michael F. Smith was interviewed by about the law and what companies should take away from the case.  For companies who wish to make such calls, he said, “The objective is to be very specific in the consent that is being given and stick with it on your end.”

While the law does provide an “emergency purposes” exception for making certain calls, he said companies should not rely on this because what constitutes an emergency is not clearly defined in the statute or regulations.

While there has been a rise in class action lawsuits alleging TCPA violations, Smith believes the Act was intended to prevent abusive marketing calls, not make companies the target of costly class actions.  “The idea was that people would go to small claims court, file their lawsuits, get their $500 and get on with their lives,” he said.