SOUTHFIELD — A citizen harassed by auto-dialed robo-calls on his cell phone about a debt he never owed has won his lawsuit in federal court.
The citizen charged the bank with a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Michigan’s Collection Practices Act.
The TCPA prohibits calls to a person’s cell phone using an automatic telephone dialing system or using a prerecorded or artificial voice message without that person’s express consent.
Dan Harris said he received 56 robo-calls on his cell phone intended for another person from Alliance Data Systems, acting on behalf of World Financial Network National Bank. Alliance and the bank claimed that one of its customers had given Harris’s cell phone number to them, but admitted that Harris informed them of the error shortly after they began calling.
Harris sued because he never owed WFNNB any money and never had any business dealings with the bank. Nevertheless WFNNB and Alliance repeatedly autodialed his cell phone after learning of the mistake. WFNNB and Alliance admitted calling Mr. Harris’s cell phone 56 times from Aug. 18 to Oct. 26, 2010.
Southfield attorney Ian Lyngklip represented Harris in the case. Lyngklip, senior member of Lyngklip & Associates Consumer Law Center PLC, Southfield, filed a motion for summary judgment on Sept. 22, 2011 with the presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox, Eastern Michigan District, Southern Division (Case No. 10-14867).
Judge Cox ruled in Harris’ favor, including triple damages for calls made after Aug. 23, when Harris first notified the bnak that they had the wrong number.
The TCPA allows for recovery of damages of up to $500 per call, and triple judgment in case of willful actions. The Court in Harris’s case found that WFNNB violated the TCPA and acted willfully when it refused to stop calling Harris’s cell phone.
Asked what the ruling means for consumers, Lyngklip said, “It’s a big win for consumers and puts banks and others in the collection business on notice once again that harassing phone calls will not be tolerated.”
Harris will collect $62,500 under the TCPA and an additional $2,500 in damages plus court costs and legal fee to be determined under the MCPA.
More at www.michiganconsumerlaw.com.