A Lemberg Law client who was on the receiving end of 249 robocalls from Conn’s Appliances turned the tables on the company when an arbitrator awarded him $373,500.
Over 240 Robocalls Placed To The Same Phone Number In A Month
Matt Larson’s nightmare began in February 2016, less than a month after his wife had agreed to make payments on a Conn’s Appliances purchase and listed Larson’s cell phone number on the contract. The robocalls started and didn’t let up.
By April 2016, Larson had told the company to stop calling. “I just don’t want to receive any more calls from you guys right now,” he told the agent, who responded, “Okay, no problem, I can go ahead and, um, take your number off the list.”
The next time Conn’s called, Larson told the agent, “This is the second time I have requested you guys to take my number off your call list.” What followed was more than 240 additional cell phone robocalls over the next five weeks.
According to Sergei Lemberg, managing attorney at Lemberg Law, “Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulations clearly prohibit cell phone robocalls once the consumer withdraws their consent.”
From Court to Mediation
With Lemberg’s help, Larson filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in July 2016. Back-and-forth legal motions ensued, and in January 2017 the court ordered the case to mediation. When a settlement couldn’t be reached, the court agreed in April 2018 to both parties’ request to move to arbitration.
In mid-May, an arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association issued a binding ruling against Conn’s Appliances, finding not only that the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, but that the violation was “willful and knowing,” meaning that the damages were tripled.
“A TCPA violation can result in an award of $500 per call,” said Lemberg. “But knowing that you’re in the wrong and continuing the unlawful behavior anyway results in the award being trebled.”
The rest is simply math. With 249 robocalls at $1,500 per call, Conn’s Appliances will have to pay Larson $373,500 for his troubles. “The only way to stop bad behavior is to hit companies where it hurts – in their pocketbooks,” concluded Lemberg.
Ensuing Court Order Upholding Arbitrator’s Decision To Award $375K in damages
In a motion following the mediator’s ruling, plaintiff Matt Larson requested that the May 19, 2019 ruling and final award by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) in his favor be confirmed under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 9. In response, defendant Conn Appliances moved to dismiss Larson’s motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
After review of the motions, the related briefs, and the applicable law, the Court concluded that Conn’s motion to dismiss should be denied, and Larson’s motion to confirm the arbitration award should be granted, in a win for the consumer.