An Illinois federal judge has approved a $600,000 settlement to end a class action accusing a health care debt collector of placing more than 1 million autodialed and prerecorded calls without express consent, saying she “feels comfortable” that the deal’s proposed terms meet preliminary approval requirements. M3 Financial Solutions will establish a settlement fund in that amount for the 19,385 class members whose cellphone numbers weren’t listed on patient or guarantor account files but still received autodialed or prerecorded calls, or both, between May 2011 and May 2016, according to the parties’ unopposed motion for preliminary approval.
The debt collector also agreed to block its autodialing and prerecorded phone systems from calling cellphones, the motion states, and it will stop calling any number whose owner revokes consent “by any reasonable means.” The motion said:
While plaintiff is confident of a favorable determination on the merits, she has determined that the settlement provides significant benefits to, and is in the best interests of, the settlement class.
Settling class members will receive cash payment according to the number of approved claims they file, and the settlement places no maximum on the number of claims one class member can file or the amount of money one person can recover, according to the motion. Any remaining settlement money will be donated to the Chicago Bar Association and earmarked for consumer protection purposes relating to debt collection and phone calls.
The 2016 complaint brought by Elaine Mason alleged M3 violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in placing numerous unsolicited cellphone calls to phones of nondebtors seeking contact with or payment from a debtor. The incoming calls were largely prerecorded, placed through an automatic telephone dialing system and came without express prior consent in violation of the TCPA. Mason and the class are represented by Jeffrey Salas of Salas Wang LLC and Kas Gallucci of Law Offices of Ronald A. Marron APLC. The case is Elaine Mason et al. v. M3 Financial Services Inc. (case number 1:15-cv-04194) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.