A government enforcement action against Charter Communications, Inc. for alleged violations of federal and state telecommunications laws has mostly withstood the first legal challenge. As we previously reported, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a federal lawsuit in October 2015 against Charter alleging violations of federal and state telemarketing and “do-not-call” laws. The lawsuit stems from Missouri’s alleged receipt of 350 complaints from consumers regarding telemarketing calls from Charter representatives.
Six months later, the case remains mired in the pleading stage in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. In January 2016, Charter filed a motion to dismiss all three counts from Missouri’s complaint, which allege violation of federal “Do Not Call” regulations, the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), and Missouri’s No-Call law. Charter argued that Missouri failed to cite any specific examples of individuals who were on the federal or state do-not-call lists, and failed to allege that calls were made to cellular telephones in violation of the TCPA.
On April 21, U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White ruled on the motion, denying in part as to the first and third counts. Regarding the federal and state no-call claims, the Court agreed with the state, finding that “identification of each specific telephone number called is not required at this stage of the litigation. Plaintiff has provided four representative complainants, which provide Charter with sufficient notice regarding plaintiff’s claims.” The Court was satisfied that discovery would provide the additional information necessary regarding the claims’ validity.
However, as to the second count under the TCPA, the Court found that Missouri was required to plead that calls were made to cell phones in order to state that calls made with an automatic telephone dialing system violated the TCPA. This count was dismissed without prejudice, allowing Missouri the option to amend its complaint to allege that such calls were made to cell phones in violation of the TCPA. Such an amendment should not prove difficult, making this ruling only a small impediment to the state’s efforts.
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 this case, as well as similar litigation regarding interpretation and application of unique state telemarketing laws, in order to identify and advise on potential risks.