Vivint sued over alleged ‘robocalls’

Lawsuit contends prerecorded calls were to individuals’ cellphones without permission
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CHICAGO—A new class-action lawsuit accuses Vivint of sending automated calls to cellphones without the owners’ permission, violating their privacy and federal law.

“It’s unfortunate that a company as large as this is going to take shortcuts and invade people’s privacy by sending out prerecorded calls,” Brian Wanca, an attorney for the Illinois man who is the representative plaintiff in the lawsuit, told Security Systems News.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction barring Vivint from making such calls, and damages and court costs.

Vivint public relations director Megan Herrick said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Vivint, a leading summer-model home automation/home security company based in Provo, Utah, also declined to talk to SSN in general about whether it uses automated calls, sometimes called “robocalls.” Some companies hire lead-generation firms to do automated calling for them, but look for reputable firms that are legally compliant.

Christopher Johansen filed the lawsuit Aug. 12 in the Circuit Court of Cook County. He is bringing the case individually and “as the representative of a class of similarly situated persons,” the complaint says.

It claims that on two dates last year, May 9 and Oct. 24, Vivint called Johansen’s cellular telephone number “and delivered a prerecorded voice message without obtaining [his] express permission to do so.” Vivint also made additional calls to his cellphone, the lawsuit contends.

The calls interfered with Johansen’s business or personal communications and invaded his privacy, the complaint says.

At least 39 others received the same or similar calls from Vivint without their consent, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit claims that Vivint “approved, authorized or participated in a scheme to use an automatic telephone dialing system and/or prerecorded messages” to call cellular telephone numbers.

It said the company’s involvement included directing the purchase or creation of a list of cellular telephone numbers; “directing or supervising employees or third parties to use an automatic telephone dialing system” to call the numbers; creating and approving a prerecorded voice message; and “determining the number and frequency of the calls.”

Vivint “knew or should have known” that it was “utilizing an automatic telephone dialing system or artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver calls to numbers assigned to cellular subscribers … who had not provided express permission or invitation,” the lawsuit says.

It alleges Vivint’s actions constitute a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. That federal law “was enacted to protect privacy rights” and prohibits the use of “an auto dialer or prerecorded voice to deliver a message to cellular telephone numbers,” the lawsuit says. Vivint “failed to correctly determine the legal restrictions on an automatic telephone dialing system to call cellular telephones,” the complaint contends.

The law was enacted in 1991. “The statute’s been out there for some time,” Wanca told SSN.

The lawsuit demands damages, which the law states are $500 for each violation. However, that amount can be tripled to $1,500 if the violation was knowing, the lawsuit says.

It also seeks attorney’s fees and court costs and any further relief the court decides is necessary. It calculates the monetary awards per individual could reach a maximum of just under $75,000.

If the court certifies the case as a class action, it’s not clear how many other individuals might also become involved. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of “all persons in the United States” who may have received such calls in the past four years.

“That’s what discovery is going to tell,” Wanca told SSN when asked about the potential number of claimants in the case.

Comments

A lot of security firms use Robo callers to market for business and this just shows that the data needs to be scrubbed more acturately.  Good job on the article.