In late June 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California gave final approval for a $2.5 million class-action settlement in Johnson v. Moss Brothers Auto Group to resolve claims brought against a motor vehicle dealer under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The settlement resolves a class action, pending since 2019, before the Supreme Court’s landmark TCPA decision in Facebook v. Duguid.
Plaintiff Jamal Johnson, a prior customer of Moss Brothers Auto Group, alleged that he received prerecorded telemarketing messages from the dealer without his prior express written consent. Johnson alleged that he received a prerecorded message, noting a high demand for his vehicle and asking whether Johnson would be interested in selling it back to the dealership. After motions practice and discovery, the parties entered into a class settlement in the amount of $2.5 million, defining the settlement class as:
All persons within the United States who, within the four years prior to the filing of the action …, were sent a prerecorded message from Defendants, auto dealerships managed by Defendants …, or anyone acting on behalf of any Defendant or Dealership …, to said person’s telephone number, for the purpose of advertising and/or promoting any dealership that is held, operated, owned, managed, serviced and/or controlled by, and/or is a subsidiary of, Defendant Moss Bros Auto Group, Inc.
Pursuant to the settlement agreement, 25% of the settlement fund will cover attorneys’ fees, in addition to a $5,000 incentive payment for the class plaintiff. The settlement does not require claims, and the settlement terms provide that each class member who does not opt out will receive a mailed check for his or her pro rata share of the settlement fund. In addition to monetary relief, the settlement agreement requires Moss Brothers to “adopt policies and procedures regarding compliance with the TCPA and the National Do Not Call Registry.”
Judge Fernando Olguin of the Central District entered a final approval on June 25, finding that the class met the requirements of Rule 23 and that the settlement provided a “fair and reasonable” outcome for class members. Citing the estimated $46 per class member recovery, less attorneys’ fees and costs, the court found that the settlement fell “within the range of reasonableness” for similar suits.
The settlement highlights the continued TCPA exposure for use of prerecorded messages, which escaped unscathed from the Facebook v. Duguid decision. A copy of the court’s decision is available here.