An Upstate Woman Receives Award Due To 465 Collection Calls
August 13, 2020
A woman in upstate New York was awarded $232,500 for hundreds of robocalls from a bank attempting to collect an outstanding credit card debt. It’s considered one of the largest awards since the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act was passed in 1991.
The Buffalo News reports a Buffalo judge awarded Salerno $232,500 on Tuesday after a court-appointed arbitrator, a panel of arbitrators and a federal magistrate judge had all agreed with her. Credit One, a Nevada-based bank that issued credit cards to Salerno and her boyfriend and was trying to collect debts from them, was ordered by District Judge John L. Sinatra Jr. to pay her damages instead.
The legal battle over the robocalls has stretched out for more than five years – and could go on longer if the bank appeals Sinatra’s decision. Attorneys for Credit One denied any wrongdoing throughout the litigation, saying the bank had no control over the number of robocalls that were made because it hired an outside company to make calls to people who fell behind on credit card payments.
Based on the numbers cited in court papers, Salerno – on average – received an average of two to three robocalls a day about credit card debts that she and her boyfriend owed to Credit One. Her attorney said his client was “annoyed and abused” by the frequent calls, especially because her cellphone contract only allowed her a certain number of call minutes per month.
During the time of the robocalls, Salerno’s credit card bill never exceeded $657, according to court papers, and her boyfriend’s credit card debt “was not much higher than hers,” Salerno’s attorney Kenneth R. Hiller said on Wednesday.
After the lawsuit was filed in June 2015, it was assigned to an arbitrator, James C. Moore, who ruled in Salerno’s favor in early 2018. A panel of three more arbitrators also ruled in Salerno’s favor later in 2018. Earlier this year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio refused to overturn the arbitration ruling, and this week, Sinatra adopted Foschio’s ruling.
In a July 6 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, but three days later it agreed to review what type of dialing equipment qualifies as an “automatic telephone dialing system” regulated by the law.
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