Case Update: Wakefield v. ViSalus, Inc.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how a jury found multilevel marketing company ViSalus, Inc. responsible for making over 1.8 million robocalls in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.  Given the TCPA’s minimum statutory damages of $500 per call, ViSalus was looking at a minimum of $925 million in damages.  If those violations were found to be willful or knowing, however, damages could be tripled to nearly $2.8 billion, at the discretion of the court.

On Monday, June 24, however, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon denied plaintiff Lori Wakefield’s request for enhanced damages.  Judge Smith determined that the case did not call for an assessment of damages above the statutory minimum.  He pointed out that ViSalus did not have a history of TCPA violations and stopped making unlawful calls shortly after it was put on notice that it may be violating the law.  He ultimately determined that the statutory minimum award of $925 million “is sufficient to deter Defendant, and others, from committing future violations of the TCPA and that a further award of enhanced damages are not warranted.”

Although this ruling is certainly a win for ViSalus, it is likely not one that they will be enthusiastically celebrating.  As Judge Smith recognized, $925 million is a significant award.  The more critical issue for ViSalus is a pending post-trial motion to decertify the class, which could actually reduce the damages award if granted.  Coincidentally, the court’s ruling came out on the same day that the FTC announced that it would be cracking down on robocalls.  All in all, it was not a good day for robocallers.

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In the new digital world, individuals and businesses are almost entirely dependent on computer technology and electronic communications to function on a daily basis. Although the power of modern technology is a source of opportunity and inspiration—it also poses huge challenges, from protecting privacy and securing proprietary data to adhering to fast-changing statutory and regulatory requirements. The Cyber Law Monitor blog covers privacy, data security, technology, and cyber space. It tracks major legal and policy developments and provides analysis of current events.
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