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Texas Woman Awarded $230K in TWC RoboCall Judgment

A Texas woman who received more than 150 “robo-calls” over the course of a year from Time Warner Cable sent her own message to the cable operator Tuesday after a Manhattan federal judge ordered TWC to pay her nearly $230,000 and scolded the operator for what he called “particularly egregious” conduct.

Araceli King of Irving, Texas said the calls began in October 2013 and were for a former Time Warner Cable customer Luiz Perez who previously had her cellphone number. But even after King had contacted a live TWC rep and after a seven-minute conversation believed she convinced them she was not Luiz Perez, the calls continued.

Time Warner Cable claimed that because it believed it was calling Perez, who had consented to the calls, it was not in violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the 1991 law specifically meant to prevent computerized or  “robo-calls” and telemarketing abuses. In addition, the calls were made by an interactive voice response (IVR) system set up to notify customers of delinquent payments, not technically an automatic dialer, which TWC claimed also does not violate the Act.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein wasn’t buying any of it.

“A responsible business in TWC’s position might have dispatched a live agent to reach out to Luiz Perez after the IVR failed to reach him the first several times,” Hellerstein wrote in his ruling. “…The responsible company will reduce its exposure dramatically by taking proactive steps to mitigate damages, while its competitor, who unthinkingly robo-dials the same person hundreds of time[s] over many months without pausing to wonder why it cannot reach him, cannot complain about much higher liability.”

He added that even after King filed the lawsuit on March 26, 2014 she received an additional 74 calls from TWC, which proved to the court that TWC was not taking the lawsuit or its customer complaint seriously.

“Defendant harassed Plaintiff with robo-calls until she had to resort to a lawsuit to make the calls stop, and even then TWC could not be bothered to update the information in the its IVR system,” Hellerstein wrote. “The calls placed after March 26, 2014 are particularly egregious violations of the TCPA and indicate that TWC simply did not take this lawsuit seriously.”

Hellerstein awarded King treble damages -- $1,500 for each of the 153 calls – for a total of $229,500.

According to reports, Time Warner Cable is reviewing the decision.