Suits Already Filed Under Updated Florida Laws

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The first lawsuits have already been filed pursuant to Florida’s recently amended telemarketing laws, which were updated as of July 1 to provide for expanded liability.

Senate Bill 1120, signed into law on June 29 by Gov. Ron DeSantis, significantly broadened the state’s existing telemarketing laws by amending both Florida’s Do Not Call Act and the Florida Telemarketing Act.

Under the amended laws, businesses must obtain prior express written consent for all “telephonic sales calls” made using an “automated system for the selection or dialing of telephone numbers or the playing of a recorded message.”

In addition, the changes provide a private right of action for any violation of the Do Not Call Act, which covers automated telephonic sales calls made without the prior express consent of the called party, calls to subscribers on Florida’s Do Not Call list, calls to persons who previously communicated they did not wish to be called, calls that fail to identify the telephone solicitor, and calls that fail to transmit the originating telephone number or that intentionally alter the voice of the caller.

Similar to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the statute provides for actual damages or $500, whichever is greater, and treble damages for knowing or willful violations.

The first case appeared less than two weeks after the amendments took effect.

Michelle Cooper filed a putative class action against Batteries Plus over allegedly unwanted text messages that were made without the required prior written express consent to promote its battery and light bulb products.

The Wisconsin-based company sent texts on July 1 and July 9 touting a “text-exclusive deal” with discounts on car, truck and boat batteries, she claimed, utilizing a computer software system that automatically selected and dialed her number.

Cooper estimated that the potential class contains “thousands of consumers” throughout Florida, requesting $500 in damages for each violation as well as an injunction against future calls or texts.

Cooper’s lawsuit was followed by Scott Merl’s complaint accusing Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants of violating the updated laws by sending texts on July 4 and 24 to promote holiday deals, and another by Juan Gomez against iDental, claiming that the dental practice’s texts to announce a new monthly payment option ran afoul of the laws.

Both plaintiffs requested the full amount of statutory damages for members of the potential classes, numbering in the thousands.

To read the complaint in Cooper v. Batteries Plus, LLC, click here.

To read the complaint in Merl v. Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc., click here.

To read the complaint in Gomez v. iDental Group, PLLC, click here.

Why it matters: The lawsuits suggest a potential new frontier for litigation over telemarketing calls and serve as a reminder to companies across the country to ensure compliance with the amended Florida telemarketing laws, which in many ways are more restrictive than the federal TCPA.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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