On June 13th, the Civil Justice Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held a hearing on lawsuit abuse and the TCPA. The goal of the subcommittee was to discuss ways of modernizing the TCPA which was written before widespread use of cell phones. The hearing titled, “Lawsuit Abuse and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act”, lasted 1.5 hours and included testimony from several witnesses.
Notable Witnesses Testimony:
Rob Sweeney (CEO of an affected SMS business)
He explained how a plaintiff had opted in to 99 of his clients' text alert programs, immediately revoked that consent, and then sent demand letters asking for up to $1 million in damages. Mr. Sweeney claimed that his business has lost over $300,000/year since this plaintiff engaged in this extortion.
Becca Wahlquist (TCPA defense lawyer)
She argued for a new 1-year statute of limitations for TCPA lawsuits, rather than the current 4 years. Ms. Wahlquist presented facts and statistics about the number of TCPA filings and their recent rapid rate of increase. She also explained that the major problem with the TCPA is that it has not been updated to address advances in modern technology.
Hassan Zavareei (TCPA plaintiff's lawyer)
He was the lone opponent to TCPA reform. Mr. Hassan argued that making any changes to the TCPA would make our personal cell phones unusable because they would be flooded with additional telemarketing calls.
Adonis Hoffman (academic and founder of "Business in the Public Interest")
He described the issue as follows: "The TCPA [harms] business because it paralyze[s] their ability to communicate effectively and efficiently with consumers and customers by telephone."
Mr. Hoffman proposed three solutions:
1. Impose a liability cap on TCPA awards
2. Amend key provisions of the TCPA
3. Provide a safe harbor for substantial compliance
For now, businesses must do everything in their power to remain TCPA compliant and not be victimized by the growing number of serial litigators that are likely hidden in every marketer’s data. The blog article, Abusive TCPA Litigation: Focus of House Subcommittee, provides further review of the hearing and topics discussed.
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