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House Judiciary Subcommittee Examines TCPA Abuse
On Tuesday, June 13, 2017, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing entitled, “Lawsuit Abuse and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).” Hearing witnesses included Rob Sweeney, Founder and CEO of Mobile Media Technologies which facilitates non-profit text communications; Becca Wahlquist, Partner at Snell & Wilmer, representing the Chamber of Commerce; Hassan Zavareei, Partner at Tycko & Zavareei; and Adonis Hoffman, former FCC Commissioner and Founder and Chairman of Business in the Public Interest.
In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Steve King (R-IA) highlighted an example of Rubio’s restaurant being sued under the TCPA for communications intended for an employee whose phone number was reassigned. “This is clearly an abuse,” stated Chairman King. Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) echoed Chairman King’s concerns and called for protecting consumers from footing the bill of frivolous lawsuits. Alternatively, Ranking Member Steve Cohen (D-TN) expressed concern about weakening a private right of action and even called for violators of the TCPA to be sentenced to life in a small room with a telephone.
Throughout the hearing, there was discussion on the proliferation of TCPA lawsuits, and even the creation of a cottage TCPA lawsuit industry. Mr. Zavareei defended the TCPA as necessary to protect consumer privacy and to deter businesses from excessive telemarketing.
In advance of the hearing, CBA joined the Chamber of Commerce and other trade groups in sending a letter to the subcommittee calling attention to the rise in TCPA filings and the need to reform the TCPA.