News

Robocall Negatives

August 8th, 2011

Robocalls disturb privacy and tie up the phone system. Most consumers,
but not all, also are deprived of the right to question or otherwise deal with the telemarketer.

Between Friends By Sandra Bell-Lundy. Published on July 25, 2011. Used with permission.

Trial News Article Regarding Washington’s Statutes Regulating Telemarketing by Kim Williams

June 23rd, 2011

The Washington legislature has enacted statutes to protect Washington Consumers from commercial telephone solicitation by use of an automatic dialing and announcing device (“ADAD”). Often these telephone calls are referred to as “robocalls.” Washington statutes include RCW 80.36.400 which provides, in part, that ADAD solicitation calls to Washington telephones violate the Washington Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86 et seq. In addition, RCW 80.36.390 provides protections for Washington non-business consumers who make “Do-Not-Call” requests of telemarketers, or ask the telemarketers to stop calling them. For a more in-depth explanation of Washington law, and how state law interrelates with federal law in this area, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), see this article by Kim Williams in the Washington State Association for Justice’s June 2011 edition of Trial News.

Trial News Article Regarding “Preemption” by Rob Williamson

June 23rd, 2011

Sometimes there can be a conflict between a state and a federal law, and the courts are asked to determine if the state’s law is overruled or negated by the federal law. In legal terms this is called “preemption.” As a court reviews the potential conflict, generally there is a presumption against preemption, in other words the state law is normally permitted to apply. In some cases, however, the federal law may be considered supreme. A common example relates to laws affecting interstate commerce and state laws that might interfere. Washington State has a law which forbids the making of solicitation robocalls, either to businesses or homes. Federal law permits business to business calls so long as two or more lines of the called business are not tied up. Robocallers have tried, without success, to “preempt” our state’s law so their calls to businesses would be permitted. For a more in-depth explanation of about this topic see this article by Rob Williamson in the Washington State Association for Justice’s June 2010 edition of Trial News.

Washington Supreme Court Rules State Can Protect Consumers From Dishonest Conduct of Banks

February 16th, 2011

Our client brought a claim against Chevy Chase Bank for charging fees in connection with paying off her loan when she refinanced her home. Banks and loan servicers often tack on suspect fees to the amount that must be paid to cancel the old loan. In our suit, Chevy Chase was able to obtain an order from the trial court that dismissed the claim on the grounds that her claims were “preempted” by federal law. This means that states and their citizens cannot seek redress for wrongful conduct by national banks that are regulated by a federal law. In our case, we argued to the Washington Supreme Court that the alleged conduct was not covered solely by federal law and state consumer protection and other laws should be enforced. The Supreme Court agreed in a decision (PDF) dated June 24, 2010. It is a powerful affirmation of the rights of citizens to enforce claims under state law.

Court Rejects Attempt to “Pick Off” Class Representative

February 15th, 2011

After a class action is filed, it is necessary for the class representative to bring a motion requesting that the case be certified as a class action. Defendants resist certification in many ways. One strategy is to offer to pay the class representative the amount of her or his claim and then argue the class representative no longer has a valid complaint. Without a class representative, then, Defendants seek dismissal of the class action lawsuit. This strategy was rejected by Magistrate Judge James P. Donahue of the Federal Court in Seattle in a decision (PDF) dated November 2, 2010. The ruling is an important affirmation of the right of individuals to bring class actions on behalf of others with similar claims and a clear statement that “picking off” a class representative will not be permitted.