Judge Rules Against Extended Warranty Administrator Interstate National Dealer Services
Robocall class action lawsuit against INDS allowed to proceed after ruling
Extended warranty administrator Interstate National Dealer Services, Inc. lost a bid last week to have a robocall class action lawsuit filed against the company in March dismissed. INDS had argued that they were neither directly or vicariously liable for an extended warranty robocall made to lead plaintiff Jayson Rogers on September 25, 2019 which led to the class action filing.
Interstate National unsuccessfully argued in a June filing that the company cannot be found directly nor vicariously liable for the robocall and that the class action robocall lawsuit filed against them may proceed.
On September 25, 2019, John Doe initiated a pre-recorded telemarketing call to plaintiff’s cellular telephone number to promote Dealer Services. This phone call “used an artificial or pre-recorded voice and stated that John Doe Corporation was calling to offer plaintiff an ‘extended warranty.’” Plaintiff pressed “1" on his cell phone to speak to a live person and was connected with one of John Doe’s telephone representatives. The representative asked plaintiff the make, model, and mileage of his automobile.
In a twelve-page ruling issued by the court, Judge Patricia A. Gaughan supported the INDS argument that it is not directly liable for the robocall in question, but disagreed with the company that it is not vicariously liable.
Unsolicited Extended Warranty Robocall
According to the initial class action lawsuit, plaintiff Jayson Rogers received an unsolicited "press 1" robocall in September 2019 from an unnamed extended warranty seller offering him a vehicle service contract administered by defendant Interstate National Dealer Services. Plaintiff Rogers was also directed to Interstate's website by the robocaller.
Interstate National's Arguments
INDS argued that they are not vicariously liable for the auto warranty robocall for the following reasons:
• The plaintiff's complaint contains “zero factual predicate” regarding the relationship between INDS and the robocaller
• The plaintiff has not provided enough factual detail to support a claim for vicarious liability under the TCPA.
• The plaintiff’s allegations that a "John Doe" telemarketer mentioned Dealer Services’ products and website are insufficient to establish vicarious liability
• There are no allegations in the complaint that it “received leads or generated sales from the alleged call,” plaintiff cannot establish vicarious liability
• That the allegation of a contract between itself and "John Doe" is insufficient to support a claim for vicarious liability.
• That INDS “does not engage any third parties to make telemarketing phone calls [on] its behalf.”
Judge Gaughan ruled against Interstate National on all of these arguments and will allow the class action lawsuit to proceed on the basis of vicarious liability. "For all the reasons set forth above, the Court finds plaintiff has alleged enough to show that an agency relationship may exist between Dealer Services and John Doe. Accordingly, the Court concludes that plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that Dealer Services may be vicariously liable under the TCPA," the ruling stated.
Prior Extended Warranty Robocall Settlement
This is not the first time that INDS has been sued for allegedly violationg the TCPA. In 2014 Interstate National Dealer Services was sued for alleged TCPA violations, and in 2016, settled the case for $4.2 million.
The current class action lawsuit is known as Rogers v. Interstate National Dealer Services, Inc. et al case number 1:20-cv-00554 in Ohio Northern District Court.
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