Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Signed into law in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is an outdated consumer protection statute restricting telemarketing calls, junk faxes and the use of automated telephone equipment. Much has changed since 1991. While the wireless marketplace and consumer use of this technology has rapidly evolved in the last twenty years, the TCPA has not. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are now exploiting the law’s outdated language and using conflicting federal court rulings to bring abusive and costly class action lawsuits against businesses. Reform is needed to clarify interpretation of the law and to protect businesses from these lawsuits. read more...



The TCPA allows consumers to sue companies for statutory damages of $500-$1,500 (depending on if the violation was willful) for each prerecorded call, specified autodialed call and unsolicited facsimile they did not consent to receive. At the time the TCPA was created, its sponsor, Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D-SC), explained the law was intended to facilitate actions in state small claims courts, which involve smaller sums and often do not require (or even allow) the participation of attorneys.

Today, however, TCPA cases are anything but small. Trial lawyers have used the law to file large class action lawsuits. The defendants in these cases are no longer just abusive telemarketers; they are businesses, big and small alike, forced to choose between settling the case or spending significant money defending an action where the alleged statutory damages may be in the millions or billions of dollars. Further, many of these companies are being sued for reasons outside of their control, such as dialing a number provided by a customer that was later reassigned to another party, or because an unaffiliated third party mentioned their products via phone call or text in an advertisement sent to consumers. One wrong call can be the basis of a class action lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in statutory damages and seeking discovery into every single call placed by that company to its customers going back four years. The risks of financial and reputational ruin strong-arms businesses into entering sometimes massive settlements even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

The growing trend of TCPA litigation already has caused many companies to consider discontinuing the provision of helpful information to customers, such as prescription availability, credit card fraud alerts or airline changes or cancellations.

Modernization of the TCPA is critical to resolving these issues. Businesses should not be faced with an untenable decision: whether to curtail communications with their customers because of the severe risk of class action litigation caused by the manipulation of an out-of-date statute by plaintiff attorneys.

Research

The Trial Lawyer Underground: Covertly Lobbying the Executive Branch

September 30, 2015 | This report highlights examples of the quiet and effective influence the American Association for Justice, the organization that lobbies on behalf of the plaintiffs' bar, exerts within the Executive Branch.

The ILR Research Review - Spring 2015

May 18, 2015 | This edition of the ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from the latest of ILR's research on enforcement slush funds, Canadian class actions, emerging litigation trends and theories from the plaintiffs' bar, and recent state tort law rulings.

Additional Resources

All Results for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

In the News Today - March 15, 2017

March 15, 2017 | News and Blog

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) "has turned a shoebox full of cheap cell phones into a treasure chest" as plaintiffs across the country look to make money off this outdated federal law. With numerous examples of abusive TCPA suits, including a Polish immigrant who had filed more than 30 TCPA lawsuits had has made approximately $800,000 off his litigation, a three-part series from Legal Newsline/Forbes underscores just how out-of-hand this practice has become. Read More »

Petition Before the FCC Would Open Flood Gates For Abusive TCPA Litigation

March 14, 2017 | News and Blog

Plaintiffs' lawyers and a few enterprising plaintiffs have been taking advantage of the outdated Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by filing class action lawsuits against companies large and small for doing such things as sending text messages to their own customers. Read More »

In the News Today - March 8, 2017

March 08, 2017 | News and Blog

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is "among the most commonly litigated consumer protection statutes." A defense against TCPA suits that is gaining traction, according to lawyers from Balch & Bingham, is the argument that individualized questions of consent make class treatment of a TCPA claim inappropriate. Read More »

In the News Today - March 1, 2017

March 01, 2017 | News and Blog

Lawyers have seen an increase in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigation in which customers claim they withdrew consent to receive text messages, but admit they did not follow the directions set out by the company as to how they should submit their withdrawal. Read More »

In the News Today - January 31, 2017

January 31, 2017 | News and Blog

Lisa Rickard, President of ILR, submitted a Letter to the Editor at the Hartford Business Journal relating to a recent article on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. "Consumers do not benefit from TCPA lawsuits, nor do small Connecticut firms. It's the plaintiffs' lawyers, who rake in millions of dollars in settlement fees in class-action cases." Read More »

TCPA Litigation Continues to Skyrocket; 1,272 Percent Increase Since 2010

January 27, 2017 | News and Blog

As we enter 2017 with a new administration, new Congress, and renewed hope for legal reform, we are faced with the unsettling fact that the explosive growth of abusive Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigation continues. Read More »

In the News Today - January 23, 2017

January 23, 2017 | News and Blog

Judge Hainey of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that Chevron Canada Limited was a distant entity from Chevron Corporation and was therefore not the defendant in the fraudulent $9 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador in 2011. Read More »

Suing Over Safety? TCPA Lawsuits Go Too Far

January 23, 2017 | News and Blog

When Honda found out that some of its vehicles' Takata-made airbags were dangerous and potentially deadly, they did the responsible thing and called every Honda customer with an urgent recall notice. Now, a clever trial lawyer has found a way to sue the company Honda hired to make those phone calls, citing Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) violations. Read More »

In the News Today - December 6, 2016

December 06, 2016 | News and Blog

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is clarifying the limitations on auto-dialed text messages, more commonly known as robotexts. This new advisory is an amendment to the TCPA, which restricts the making of telemarketing calls, the use of automatic telephone dialing system, and artificial or prerecorded voice messages. Read More »

ILR President Lisa Rickard Predicts More Action in Congress by Business Community to Advance Legal Reforms

November 11, 2016 | News and Blog

The National Law Journal writes on the "cautious optimism" of tort reform groups when it comes to the future legislative and regulatory efforts of president-elect Trump and Congress. Read More »

  • bulletClick to Narrow Your Results