Walgreen Co. this week settled a putative class action law suit alleging that it violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for $11 million. The plaintiffs alleged that Walgreen violated TCPA when it placed unsolicited prerecorded prescription refill reminders to customers on the cell phones.
Walgreen defended the calls by stating that because the plaintiffs provided their cell phone numbers when refilling their prescriptions previously, that constituted “express written consent” required by TCPA, and also that it fell under an exemption of the TCPA and was allowed to call the cell phones for an “emergency purpose” of furthering the health and safety of its customers.
After Walgreen was unsuccessful in getting the claims tossed, initial discovery ensued and the parties agreed to settle.
In addition to paying $11 million to the proposed class for approved claims submitted (estimated at $15 a piece), Walgreen has agreed to implement procedures to confirm that customers consent to receive automated calls on their mobile phone numbers in their customer profiles, and also to provide customers with an option to opt in or opt out of receiving prerecorded calls to their cell phones.
The lessons learned in all of these TCPA class action suits? TCPA continues to be a hot topic for plaintiffs lawyers because of the availability of a private right of action and automatic damages of $500 per call and $1500 for a willful violation of the TCPA. Companies looking to market and/or contact customers via text messages and/or prerecorded calls should be wary and ensure compliance with the TCPA before launching the campaign.