One Bad Call Is Enough to Get Sued and Lose | Reviewing Odom vs ECA Marketing

Cyber law or internet law concept with 3d rendering ai robot with law scale

We tend to believe that legal entities that follow the rules are safe from being sued, or at least from any liability during a presupposed class-action lawsuit. The recent Ryan Odom v. ECA Marketing, Inc. case is here to prove just how wrong we are and just how careful companies need to be when guarding themselves and staying TCPA-compliant.

The Case

The TCPA states that a party must “willfully and knowingly” violate the statute in order to be held liable by a court. In the current case, the defendant only placed a single errant call. The question then being raised is whether one call is sufficient evidence to satisfy the intent standard set by “willfully and knowingly.”

In the TCPA class action lawsuit presented before the United States District Court for the Central District of California, on August 20, 2020, the plaintiff alleges that the intent standard is satisfied. Mr. Odom, the accuser, filed suit after receiving just one phone call from ECA Marketing in which an unsolicited, prerecorded message advertised a book and video package.

According to The Court, the case made by Mr. Odom infers that other consumers got the same prerecorded message he got, and that:

“The Defendant has a practice of making pre-recorded calls to advertise using an automatic telephone dialing system which places calls without the need for human callers.”

The plaintiff repeatedly accused ECA Marketing of violating the TCPA in negligent, willful, and/or knowing manners.

The Concession

In an interesting turn, the defendant, ECA Marketing made the concession that it had indeed been negligent of the TCPA. However, this claim should not have presented any form of liability because it is not a statute presented within the TCPA – i.e. it’s not a crime to be negligent.

At the same time, the inference made by the Defendant that ECA Marketing used pre-recorded messages in a repeated fashion is what tipped the scale. Mr. Odom did not claim the accused made multiple calls, nor did he claim he was subsequently called after he objected – he was not. The Defendant argued that one call is not sufficient proof of intent, a point with which The Court agreed:

“The Defendant is correct that a single automated phone call, without more, may fall short of willfulness under the TCPA.”

The Inference

However, the case turned after a statement by Judge Jesus G. Bernal, who noted that the motion to dismiss Mr. Odom’s claim needs to take into account the fact that the plaintiff raised a “well-pleaded factual allegation” that there is a “plausible inference of liability.”

The result of this statement was that the Court allowed the case to proceed, leading to the following analytical framework of “plausible inference”:

  • That it was ‘logical for [Odom] to infer that Defendant was using an automatic dialing system to place the pre-recorded robocall he received—automated messages are evidence of automated calls;”
  • That “by nature, automatic dialing systems produce a vast volume of calls, more than an individual person could dial;”
  • That “it is more than plausible that others received the same pre-recorded message;”
  • That “the plausible inference that many consumers received identical automated telemarketing messages from Defendant could satisfy the standard for willfulness under the TCPA.”

There is a huge difference between “we made one bad call” and “we willingly violated the TCPA.” But this is what this Court and this judge decided. Is it the right decision? We don’t know. Let us know your opinion in the comments – it will certainly lead to an interesting discussion.

Setting a Precedent

But going back to what we said at the beginning, this case clearly demonstrates that one bad call is more than enough to violate the TCPA. It may be a mistake, it may be negligence, but that single call can demonstrate the existence of an ATDS (Automated Dialing System) that has been used illegally, even if it was used a single time.

Shielding Your Business

That is why contact centers must take the necessary steps to guard their business thoroughly and unequivocally.

Our SHIELD system, part of our Telecom Carrier Network deal, is the ideal way to guard your company against liability. It allows for multiple filters including time zone and frequency and gives you the tools to configure compliance rules based on your business model.

The best part? All these filters are on a Carrier level and they come together with the most reliable and redundant carrier network in existence – and the only one designed specifically for contact centers. Learn more on our carrier network page, or fill in the form on this page.

With a background in Anthropology and a passion for digital marketing and copywriting, Georgian enjoys translating complex, often technical, concepts into everyday words. He loves optimizing everything, from texts, marketing funnels, and PPC campaigns to visual creations, social media feeds, or landing pages.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The August 20 case of Odom vs ECA Marketing proves that ONE prerecorded call to the wrong person is enough to prove a WILLFUL violation of the TCPA. Read about it, see how it all happened, and read how you can best guard your business.
Anda Alexandrescu

Anda Alexandrescu

The greatest writer of them all. Insert more bio info here

call centers
Blog

Inbound vs. Outbound Call Centers – How Do They Work?

While the role of call centers is crucial in customer service, companies often choose between inbound and outbound call centers. Each of these call centers come with unique functionalities, benefits, and challenges. This article explores the definitions, success KPIs, benefits, and considerations for both inbound and outbound call centers, helping you determine the best approach for your business needs. Additionally, we’ll discuss blended call centers, which combine the strengths of both inbound and outbound operations.

Read More »
conversational analytics
Blog

What Is Conversational Analytics and how does it help your Call Center?

Conversational analytics stands as a crucial technology in customer service. It enables businesses to dissect and understand the nuances of their interactions with customers through voice and text. This field integrates advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to parse and analyze communication data. Here’s a deeper look into the types and components of conversational analytics:

Read More »
AI-based call centers
Blog

AI-based call center: How do they work?

An AI-based call center utilizes artificial intelligence technologies to manage and improve customer interactions. The integration of AI in call centers is transforming traditional approaches, allowing for more effective communication channels and operational efficiencies.

Read More »
omnichannel customer engagement
Blog

What is Omnichannel Customer Engagement & How to Improve It

Not all businesses have the ability or the resources to effectively engage customers across multiple channels. This, however, is crucial for businesses that are trying to maintain a competitive edge. The concept of omnichannel customer engagement has been around for a while now, yet not all companies utilize it correctly or at all.

Read More »

Free 30-day Proof of Concept

Unlock Your FREE Month of licensing and take your contact center to the next level.

Fill in this form and save big on your tech stack with NobelBiz OMNI+ cloud contact center software!

"*" indicates required fields

Hidden

Expert Form Tip: Sign Up with Google ReCAPTCHA

To use the CAPTCHA field on this form to protect your website from spam and bot abuse you will need to sign up with Google ReCAPTCHA. For more information on this, check out the Docs.

Important: Delete this tip before you publish the form.

Name*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

New LIVE Workshop

Boost Outbound Call Volumes With Hybrid Dialing

NEW ON-DEMAND FIRESIDE CHAT!

2023 Contact Center Industry Recap & Future Projections