Consumer Law

Law limiting autodial cellphone calls spurs 'litigation boom'

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Joshua Swigart is among the consumer-protection lawyers who are using the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to sue companies that violate limits on cellphone calls.

Swigart was among the first lawyers to use the 1991 law against a debt collector, obtaining up to $950,000 in a suit on behalf of consumers who received auto-dialed messages from NCO Financial Systems, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. The law generally bars autodial calls to cellphones absent express consent, and companies that don’t comply can be forced to pay $500 to $1,500 per call.

Since that 2007 case, Swigart has been involved in dozens of suits citing violations of the TCPA. He was among the lawyers who obtained multimillion-dollar settlements with Bank of America, student lender SLM Corp., Jiffy Lube, and units of Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac.

The law was intended to fight unwanted calls that could rack up charges to consumers. “But even though those calls are cheap now and many people no longer use land lines,” the story says, “the law has found a lucrative new life as a tool for plaintiffs attorneys.”

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