On October 19, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri against Charter Communications, Inc., alleging violations of federal and state telemarketing and “do-not-call” laws.  Koster claims that his office received 350 complaints from consumers “about harassing practices by Charter’s telemarketers … [in] an attempt to sell Charter’s cable, internet, and phone services.”

In addition to the National Do Not Call Registry, Missouri has its own No-Call list of 4.5 million phone numbers, comprised of both cell phones and landlines.  Additionally, Missouri’s telemarketing law supplements federal law by prohibiting telemarketers from contacting consumers “repeatedly or continuously in a manner a reasonable consumer would deem to be annoying, abusive, or harassing.”

Koster’s complaint generally alleges that Charter Communications and its vendors “placed at least thousands of telemarketing calls to Missouri consumers, even after the consumers asked that Charter stop calling.”  The complaint specifically alleges that individual consumers received dozens of calls in less than a year and up to five calls per day.  Despite requests for the calls to cease, Charter allegedly informed consumers that it would take forty-five days to place consumers on its internal do-not-call list.

The complaint seeks substantial damages, including up to $16,000 for each violation of the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), at least $500 for each violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), up to $5,000 for each violation of the state No-Call statute, and an unspecified civil penalty for each violation of the state telemarketing statute.  Given the substantial damages potential, it is imperative for companies to institute robust compliance procedures to avoid and/or defend against such litigation.

Koster’s complaint is a reminder that in addition to federal do-not-call requirements of the TCPA and the TSR, many states have their own specific requirements.

Troutman Sanders LLP has unique industry-leading expertise with state and federal telemarketing laws, with experience gained trying such cases to verdict and advising Fortune 50 companies regarding their compliance strategies.  We will continue to monitor litigation in this area, especially interpretation and application of unique state telemarketing laws, in order to identify and advise on potential risks.