Michigan Man Wins $65,000 In Lawsuit Over Robocalls

As we’ve pointed out before, it’s illegal for companies to make auto-dialed, pre-recorded calls to your wireless device unless you have given them your consent. But that hasn’t stopped some offenders from continuing, even after they have been told to stop.

A man in Michigan was recently awarded $65,500 after he sued a robocalling company for allegedly making 56 calls to his cellphone in a two-month span.

The suit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Michigan, alleged violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Michigan’s Collection Practices Act. The robocaller claimed it had been given clearance by a customer to call that particular number, but the plaintiff says the calls continued even after he told the telemarketer it had been given inaccurate information.

The judge in the case issued a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff, awarding him $500 for each call, plus triple damages for each call placed after the plaintiff notified the callers of their error.

That came to $62,500, plus an additional $2,500 in other damages. Court costs and other money could still be added to the robocaller’s tab

“It’s a big win for consumers and puts banks and others in the collection business on notice once again that harassing phone calls will not be tolerated,” says the plaintiff’s attorney Ian Lyngklip in a statement.

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    “The robocaller claimed it had been given clearance by a customer to call that particular number”

    Yes, PLEASE spam me with never ending phone calls to buy things. I’m retired and have plenty of time and phone minutes to spare and it is the only company I have – next to my 53 cats.

  2. Fast Eddie Eats Bagels says:

    When you win a nice lawsuit like that, how does one receive the payment? One nice fat check, or multiple checks during x amount of years?

    • Blueskylaw says:

      First you have to hire a collection agency that
      will robocall them non-stop telling them to pay up.

    • Snape says:

      I have a structured settlement, but I need cash nowwwww!!!

    • Kodai says:

      You sue them again.

    • bhr says:

      Never? Most of these places basically reinvent themselves every couple months to stay ahead of lawsuits and fines.

      I’m not sure if $65k is enough to disappear over, but my guess is they delay paying (there are hearings to determine means/payment terms) until they get enough of them stocked up then go out of business.

  3. Peter V says:

    1. Publicly Post Google Voice Number (Direct all calls to Voicemail) on Blogs etc.
    2. Sue every company that calls the number
    3. ????
    4. PROFIT

  4. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    This is awesome! I hope someone follows up on this story to see if he actually receives a settlement, or if the robocaller company somehow weasels out of it.

    • January says:

      If no payment, the sheriff walks in with a court order to seize all assets. Desks, computers, chairs, pencils, pens, phones, headsets, wastepaper baskets…

      Actually, one guy in NJ did this to Dell several years ago. He took Dell to court over a faulty laptop they refused to fix/replace/refund his money. Won too. When he sued them, the papers were sent to the Dell KIOSK he bought it from. The employees of the kiosk never forwarded the papers onto Dell Corporate attorneys. No one from Dell showed up in court and the guy won by default. When no payment showed up, the court sent the sheriff to the kiosk where they closed it down and took everything. THAT got the attention of Dell Corporate.

  5. Cat says:

    Give me just one reason why all marketing robocalls shouldn’t be banned?

    • ShadowJack says:

      Well there’s the reason that…
      Or there is the idea that…

      Nope, I got nothing.

    • nugatory says:

      I can’t come up with a “shouldn’t” be banned, but the reason they won’t be banned: politicians use them.

      • StarKillerX says:

        Yeah, and of course as with most laws they exempted themselves from the do not call list regulations.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      This. I signed up on the Do Not Call list for a reason. If I want to buy something, or obtain some sort of services, it sure as heck isn’t going to happen because someone cold calls me out of the blue and wants my credit card number.

      The worst part is, even if I report the phone number to the FTC, it’s usually spoofed anyway, so there’s no way for an average person to track down the offender. If they’re off shore, then what?

      I’ve assigned a specific ring tone to family and friends on my home phone, so if it rings and it’s not that particular ring tone, I just ignore it and look later. Usually it’s “Rachel” or one of the other credit card scammers. That’s the best I can do for now.

      • Debbie says:

        Exactly. 6 times this year I’ve turned in “Rachel” from Credit Card Services. They call from a different phone number each time.

    • Necoras says:

      They are. Robocalls are legal ONLY if you’ve done business with an entity (donated money, bought something, etc.) in the past 18 months, or they’re political in nature (donate money, please vote for me, etc. nice exemption the politicians put in there for themselves).

      Robocalls for any other reason are illegal, regardless of whether or not you’ve signed up your number for the do not call list. If you have the name of the business or the number you can report them to the Do Not Call registry and hope the government will bring criminal charges against them. If they call you more than once within a 12 month period then you can sue them.

      • shepd says:

        I had that problem with some crap insurance company calling me on my cell. They said they were related to MBNA. I phoned MBNA and they agreed they were related, but that they couldn’t stop the calling.

        I sent a letter to head office explaining why I will need them to close my account. Head office sent me an apology and asked that since they’ve removed my phone number from their system and called their marketers up to have them do the same, would I stay?

        I did… …mostly because their card wasn’t a bad deal. But that relationships thing is pretty bullshit. :(

  6. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    So, what is the name of the robocalling company? Is it a company that does that as their business, or is it some company that decided to buy a robodialer, or what? More info needed.

  7. deathbecomesme says:

    The real trick is collecting lol

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      Two words: Sheriff’s Levy (aka “till tap”)

      • Bugley says:

        Good luck finding the till to tap.

        But anyway, I’m glad the guy won the lawsuit.

        • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

          No problem. These robocall centers have offices where they conduct their business. Find the Registered Agent for the company, and then you’ll find their operations address. Go there with the sheriff, serve the satisfaction of judgement, and have them take either money or property (computers, furniture, TVs). They’ll fall in line and deliver your money judgement tout suite.

  8. Pagan wants a +1 button says:

    Remember the good old days when folks kept a schoolyard whistle next to the phone for use against sales calls? :::::sigh::::

    • Willow16 says:

      My dad was a track coach and had a starter pistol that he did use when we were getting repeated prank calls. We never got another one.

  9. PBallRaven says:

    Yeah, I’ve got this “Captain” guy that keeps calling my cell phone offering a cruise…

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I’ve got some dbag trying to sell me home security. I’ve sent the story to Consumerist twice now, guess it’s not as important as lubed-up ketchup bottles.

      • Schildkrote says:

        They’re too busy proofreading their pos–…bahahaha I can’t even finish that sentence.

      • Galium says:

        Maybe if you got all lubed up they might pay attention to your letter. Of course the attention you get may not be what you are looking for. Then again?

      • Necoras says:

        Record the calls, keep your phone statements, and take them to court. It’s pretty cheap, and you can make some decent money.

      • taaurrus says:

        I’ve sent them a few stories too. One of them involved a automotive company that I took my van into for an oil change & front brakes and they drained all my oil & water because I wouldn’t agree to their quote of $600 over the advertised price for brakes. This resulted in my van breaking and a complaint filed with the attorney general. Apparently, they’ve done this to more people than just me & the news picked up on it. But, like you said – apparently, lubed up ketchup bottles is more of a consumerist story than warning people not to go to this company. Which is BRAKE TEAM btw.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        I submitted a tip about the Verizon Third Party Billing class action suit to suggest people keep an eye out for the postcard in the mail if they’re a former Verizon customer. I nearly missed it. There’s a PIN number on it that’s important if you want to submit a request on their website to get a list of third party billings.

      • just_joe says:

        Same thing here – I sent in a story about how AMEX and Amazon encourage you to link your reward points to purchase ANYTHING at Amazon – but oh, wait, not mentioned anywhere was that this excludes any form of digital content. WTF? Why are those items excluded – but not mentioned anywhere? This seems like a major thing for consumerist readers to know about so as to not be scammed into linking up with Amazon – but nope, nada, zilch – other stories I’ve sent in were posted almost immediately under the previous regimes.

        Maybe they have to reach a certain quirkiness factor before they’ll post these days? Lubed ketchup bottles is a consumerist important story? c’mon, really?

  10. axolotl says:

    I get these calls weekly from come company about some lawsuit or mortgage or some crap. I don’t know I never make it more then 5 seconds into the obviously recorded message. It’s obnoxious, I had no idea it’s illegal.

  11. Necoras says:

    I got a robo call last night from some guy wanting to put me in his prayer closet. They called my wife’s phone too. Apparently just going down the list of numbers sequentially. I hope they call me again so I can sue them.

    • RandomLetters says:

      I got that call about a week ago. I actually waited on it to finish and see if I could talk to a live person but no one ever came on the line. I was sure looking forward to having some fun with them.

  12. Necoras says:

    Yeah, I clicked through until it asked for my zip code. Wasn’t going to give them any actual information.

  13. Torchwood says:

    Hey, it’s Keitai Sousakan 7 in the photo.

  14. Budala says:

    I get calls from all kind of strange numbers trying to sell me health insurance. I have yet to find out what company is actually calling and what their real phone number is as they either spoof the caller ID or the number is an automated message.

  15. icerabbit says:

    Source?

    I would love to read more on dealing with robocalls. Get them on both the home phone, office number and cellphone. They never take you off the list. Automated or in person. All it does is confirm you’re a live number.

    They drive me up the wall when they interrupt me several times a day, but all you have to go on basically is the fake caller ID number.

    How do you go from a caller ID number that can’t be trusted to figuring out who actually robocalled you and winning a court case?

  16. January says:

    Original article: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/05/23/news/local_news/doc4fbd57e160573743595889.txt?viewmode=fullstory

    The calls were made by Alliance Data Systems, acting on behalf of World Financial Network National Bank.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      “In their response to the lawsuit, Alliance argued the number provided on the three accounts was the one they used; they removed it from all three accounts after Harris notified them it was his cell phone number and that debt was not his.”

      Yet the calls continued? Debt collectors are always the liars. It’s their nature to lie.

  17. ned4spd8874 says:

    I’m in Michigan and when I spoke with an attorney about this, she said that I had to send them a letter asking them to stop and remove me. And only after that, could I consider my other options.

    I keep getting them on my phone and have no idea where they are getting my number from. And simply telling them to stop or remove me (IF I even get to a real person) does nothing.

  18. OMG_BECKY says:

    I’m in Michigan too. I’m CRIPPLED due to an FDA-approved drug (Cipro) and you know how much I’ve been awarded? ZERO. In MI we are not allowed to sue drug companies! We’re just supposed to bend over and take it! What a f’d up world I’m living in.

  19. italianbaby says:

    i also recently filed a class action lawsuit against a company robo calling me on my cell phone about collections. i just had changed my cell phone number and inherited a dead beats number.
    i was getting a few calls a day. i hired a law firm out of california. the suit was waiting for class action status by a judge, but never made it because the defendant decided to settle. a few people who joined by my law suit made quite a few bucks off of me filing this suit. which i was very happy for them.
    in the end i got $500.00 for the first phone call and then $1,000 thereafter. my take was $8,000.
    the company that was sued is nationally known to disobey the do not call list and robo calls. (allied interstate)
    this suit falls under the telephone communications act. i find it interesting how many people get these calls and do nothing, just either ignore the calls they see on their caller id, or tell the people not to call back. and do nothing after still getting phone calls.
    you see once you tell them not to call you. the cash register starts to tick in the consumers favor. you get paid for every phone call after you tell them not to call you. no letter writing is necessary. all you have to do, is get the name of the company. hire a class action lawyer and you are good to go. and tell them not to call you again.
    you must have notdone any business with the company in the past. i didn’t owe anyone any money since i pay my bills. these idiots refused to believe me, and kept calling me.
    in case you are wondering how did they know how much to pay me. i gave my lawyer my cell phone bills, and the firm went thru each and every call. this can be done on land lines also.
    so in essence don’t ignore those pesky calls, write down the time and date they call you. tell them to cease calling you, and if they persist, find a lawyer to take your case. my lawyer came out of california. it was settled in 8 months. good luck…

    • flychinook says:

      Many people “do nothing” because they don’t even know who’s calling. The number is spoofed, and they usually won’t even say who they’re calling on behalf of. Who do you sue?

      • italianbaby says:

        i understand that these people can spoof their numbers. the one that called me used a true verifiable number.
        when you get a spoofed number from these robo calls, take the call and get as much info from them as you can. like the name of the company. if they are selling you something get their address as to pretend that you will be sending them the money they request.
        from talking to the lawyers, a lot of this places are boiler room places meaning these are the hard ones to trace.
        but with a little effort you can get the info needed. not saying every robo call will be easy to find out who they are, or their true telephone number is. but it doesn’t hurt to dig into it.

      • italianbaby says:

        i understand that these people can spoof their numbers. the one that called me used a true verifiable number.
        when you get a spoofed number from these robo calls, take the call and get as much info from them as you can. like the name of the company. if they are selling you something get their address as to pretend that you will be sending them the money they request.
        from talking to the lawyers, a lot of this places are boiler room places meaning these are the hard ones to trace.
        but with a little effort you can get the info needed. not saying every robo call will be easy to find out who they are, or their true telephone number is. but it doesn’t hurt to dig into it.

  20. jamar0303 says:

    Totally off-topic, but I used to have the phone featured in the picture.

  21. jsimpson says:

    This is why the Government should force the phone companies to make the Caller I.D. system actually work. No spoofing allowed. If they can’t fix it. Shut them down. Think of all the gullible people paying for Caller I.D. Maybe we need a class action lawsuit against the phone companies for selling a defective product.