Araceli King of Irving Texas, 44, allegedly received 153 automated or pre-recorded calls to her cell phone without her consent between July 3, 2013 and August 11, 2014, court documents reveal.
“She’s happy, not just about the money, but more so that the outcome was in her favor, given how long and how many calls she received and how harassed she felt," King's lawyer Sergei Lemberg told ABC News today.
King, a claims specialist, sued Time Warner Cable in March 2014 in federal court in New York City, seeking statutory damages of $81,500. But in his decision yesterday, Judge Alvin Hellerstein tripled the damages, saying the company's "particularly egregious" behavior violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.
Time Warner's calls sought a person called "Luis Perez," court documents claim, an unrelated customer who opened an account with the company in February 2012 using the same phone number that Sprint later assigned to King.
A spokeswoman for Time Warner Cable told ABC News, "We are reviewing the ruling and our options to determine how we are going to proceed."
The company didn't dispute the number of calls to King, but notes that less than half the calls resulted in messages being played to King or her voicemail. The other calls didn't violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, because they weren't an automatic dialing system, the company claimed in court filings. The company also argued that she didn't suffer harm and she consented to the calls under the customer agreement. That "terms of service" agreement states, according to a court filing: "We may call you at any number you provide to us (or that we issue to you) for any purpose, including marketing of our services...However, if you ask to have your number placed on our 'do not call' list, we will not call you at that number for marketing purposes ... We may use automated dialing systems or artificial or recorded voices to call you."
Lemberg called the monetary judgment a “nice birthday present” for his client, whose birthday is later this week. King claims Time Warner Cable made 153 robocalls to her cell phone even after she complained to them on October 3, 2013. A court document shows at least one of Time Warner Cable's incoming calls lasted as long as seven minutes.
“She complained to Time Warner first," Lemberg said. "That led her nowhere. Then she called us and we sued Time Warner. They kept calling her after we sued. It’s man versus machine. You can’t even stop the machine.”
King, who court documents describe as a "long-time customer" of Time Warner Cable, declined to comment to ABC News.
“This is an important judgment and an important message," Lemberg said. "Consumers should know that they have a right to recover for unwanted robocalls and they have the ability to take these big companies to court and make them pay and account for what they do. This technology is useful to businesses but can be disruptive to consumers. It’s regulated on the federal level and people have the right to go to court.”
The judge wrote in his opinion, "The court may award up to treble damages if it finds that a defendant's violation was knowing or willful. After October 3, 2013, TWC had knowledge through its agent that King did not consent to further robocalls. Therefore, [King's] subsequent calls were knowing violations and treble damages are appropriate."
“When we filed the lawsuit, Time Warner didn’t lay down. We had to litigate them for over a year," Lemberg said. "They took her deposition as well. We flew her to New York for her deposition; the point being that this was a hard-fought battle that resulted in a very favorable and, we think, fair verdict.”