The U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois recently granted partial summary judgment against Dish Network finding the satellite TV provider liable for tens of millions of calls that violated the FTC’s telemarketing rules. The FTC’s 2009 complaint alleges that Dish Network initiated, or caused a telemarketer to initiate, calls to numbers on the National Do Not Call (“DNC”) Registry and to consumers who previously declined to receive such calls whose numbers were on Dish Network’s entity-specific do-not-call list or were marked “DNC” by a telemarketing vendor. The FTC also alleged that, in violation of the “abandoned-call” provision of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), Dish Network abandoned or caused telemarketers to abandon phone calls.
The court’s opinion found Dish Network liable for nearly 7 million calls it, its vendors, or its retailers made to numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. In addition, the court found Dish Network liable for more than 1 million calls to consumers who had previously said they did not wish to receive such a call and for another approximately 50 million calls that Dish Network abandoned or caused telemarketers to abandon in violation of the FTC’s TSR. States like California, Illinois, Ohio, and North Carolina are joining the federal government in bringing charges against Dish Network. The states allege that Dish Network violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and state law. A trial is set for July in the Illinois federal court. Dish Network has vowed to challenge the court’s ruling. However, it is worth noting that last year the FCC obtained a record settlement with a major communications carrier for alleged Do Not Call Registry violations.