AT&T Mobility LLC has asked a Montana federal judge to approve a $45 million settlement that would resolve a proposed class action alleging the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by making unsolicited calls to individuals who purported not to be AT&T subscribers. In a joint motion filed with lead Plaintiff Joel Hageman, the parties ask U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen to approve the proposed settlement, arguing that it presents guaranteed benefits to the 16,000-member settlement class without the risks and costs associated with a trial, while also absolving AT&T of all liability.
The joint motion asks for the law firms Bishop and Heenan, Keogh Law Ltd., and Bingham and Lea PC to be appointed as settlement class counsel. The proposed settlement would allow members of a settlement class to receive up to $500 per call, with the actual size of the per-call payment being determined on a pro rata basis, according to the motion. The parties say they reached the agreement after a mediation session with former U.S. Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow of JAMS Resolution Centers. The joint motion states:
The parties’ agreement to settle this litigation reflects well-informed and engaged arm’s-length bargaining with the assistance of a highly experienced mediator. Plaintiff’s counsel have litigated numerous class actions, including cases involving the legality of calls made to cellular telephone numbers under the TCPA. For its part, ATTM is represented by experienced counsel who have thoroughly investigated plaintiff’s claims and assessed their potential value.
According to the complaint, Hagemen received multiple recorded calls from AT&T that began with this message: “This is an important message from AT&T to discuss your wireless service.” AT&T claims the customers contacted had consented to receiving the calls by providing their cellular telephone number as a can-be-reached number for AT&T’s customer accounts. I have a hard time believing that customers intended for that to happen. What do you think?
The $45 million agreement is one of the largest proposed settlements to resolve a TCPA suit in recent memory. A California federal judge on Sept. 2 approved a $32 million settlement resolving a class action alleging Bank of America Corp. violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, an amount the parties claim is the largest recovery ever obtained in a finalized TCPA settlement. Capital One Financial Corp. and three collections agencies agreed in August to pay almost $75.5 million to settle a consolidated class action TCPA suit, but that agreement has yet to receive final approval.