Although the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) gives consumers the right to claim thousands of dollars in punitive damages for each illegal phone call made to their cell phones, there are valid reasons for plaintiffs to seek a settlement that pays only a fraction of their eligible damages.
In a recent proposed class action consumer lawsuit against Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, the parties have agreed to a financial settlement of $17.5 million to cover the claims of more than 1.6 million customers. Attorneys representing the class of plaintiffs have said they will request reimbursement for up to $100,000 of their actual expenses, fees of no more than one third of the total settlement fund ($5.8 million), and an incentive award of $25,000 for each of the three named plaintiffs who came forward to file the TCPA lawsuit.
After all that, each plaintiff will receive anywhere from $55 to $90, depending on their individual claims. Any funds that are left over after all payments have been made will go to the National Consumer Law Center and the Public Justice Foundation. None of the funds will revert back to Ocwen, as is sometimes the case in class action settlements.
In addition to the monetary settlement, Ocwen has also agreed to adjust the system it uses to gain consent from its customers, and to provide funds to anyone who may receive calls in the future as a result of gaps in Ocwen’s system of maintaining records of customers who have provided consent to be contacted on their cell phones. If that happens, Ocwen has agreed to pay a minimum of $1,000 for the first 10 violations, $1,250 for 11-50 violations, and $1,500 for any calls after the fiftieth. Because these numbers represent the minimum amounts plaintiffs can seek, some plaintiffs may be eligible for more than $1,500, depending on their claims.
Although most of the plaintiffs included in the class action lawsuit will be receiving considerably less than $1,000 for the calls they received without consent, the attorneys have said they believe the settlement agreement is favorable for their clients. It provides immediate, substantial financial and injunctive relief and eliminates the expense and uncertainty of continuing to pursue the dispute in the courts.
The lawsuit alleges Ocwen failed to maintain a policy for obtaining consent from customers before contacting them on their cell phones about promotions between October 2010 and December 2014. As a result, the company, using an automated dialing system, allegedly made more than 100 million illegal phone calls to almost 1.2 million cell phones.
In addition to the main class of plaintiffs, the lead plaintiffs asked the court to include a subclass of more than 60,000 consumers whose numbers were allegedly obtained by Ocwen through third-party sources before Ocwen called them to determine whether those numbers did, in fact, belong to those consumers. Obtaining consumers’ phone numbers in such an indirect way is strictly prohibited by the TCPA.
The parties agreed to settle the case before the judge could decide whether to grant class certification to the plaintiffs.
A spokesperson for Ocwen stated the company remains firm in its belief that it did nothing wrong, but that settling the case outside of court was more expedient and less costly than continuing to argue their side of the case in the courts. It also eliminated the uncertainty of a court ruling, which could easily go either way.
Our Naperville, Illinois consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action gift card, data breach, privacy rights, deceptive advertising, predatory lending, unfair debt collection, lemon law, and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totaling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. The Chicago consumer lawyers at Lubin Austermuehle are proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations to obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.
Our Elgin and Schaumburg consumer attorneys provide assistance in data breach, privacy violation, fair debt collection, consumer fraud and consumer rights cases including in Illinois and throughout the country. You can click here to see a description of the some of the many individual and class-action consumer cases our Chicago consumer lawyers have handled. A video of our lawsuit which helped ensure more fan friendly security at Wrigley Field can be found here. You can contact one of our Geneva and Evanston consumer protection, gift card and data breach attorneys who can assist in consumer fraud, consumer rip-off, lemon law, unfair debt collection, predatory lending, wage claims, unpaid overtime and other consumer, or consumer class action cases by filling out the contact form at the side of this blog or by clicking here. You can also call our toll-free number at 630-333-0333.