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Robocall Litigation: A Federal Judge Grants Class Certification in TCPA Lawsuit Brought by a Noncustomer against Citibank, N.A.

In response to consumer complaints, in 1991 Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) to discourage and prevent unsolicited advertisement over telephone lines. The TCPA places restrictions on the use of automatic telephone dialing systems, both artificial and prerecorded voice messages, and other “robocalling” systems to protect the privacy interests of telephone subscribers. The TCPA has been the subject of high-profile litigation in recent years, and once again finds itself at the heart of litigation—this time in, Christine Head v. Citibank, N.A., in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

In Christine Head v. Citibank, N.A., Plaintiff Christine Head brought a lawsuit against Defendant Citibank, N.A. after she received more than 100 unsolicited “robocalls” between October and December 2017 regarding past-due credit card debt even though Head is not a Citibank customer. Citibank “robocalled” Plaintiff’s cellphone number regarding the past-due credit card debt of an individual named Jack Bingham. Head neither knows Jack Bingham, nor did she authorize him (or anyone else for that matter) to open a Citibank account using her cellphone number. Head filed her action against the national bank on August 15, 2018, claiming that each of the unsolicited calls made to her cellphone regarding Bingham’s credit card debt violated the TCPA. Head subsequently brought a motion to certify a class and for the appointment of class counsel for persons and entities within the United States receiving unsolicited robocalls from Citibank regarding past-due credit card debt, despite not being Citibank customers, from August 15, 2014, through the date of class certification.

In order to have her class certified, Head needed to satisfy four prerequisites: (1) that the class members were so numerous that joinder of all members would be impracticable; (2) that there would be at least one question of law or fact common to all members of the class; (3) as the class representative, Head’s claims and defenses would be typical of the class; and (4) as the class representative, Head would fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. Citibank opposed Head’s motion on grounds that she did not identify any other person who could be a member of the class in her motion; thus, it argued, Head could neither demonstrate that potential members were so numerous that joinder would be impractical nor that her claims would be typical for the class. However, the Court ultimately agreed with Head, finding that there could be over one million putative class members which makes joinder impracticable in this case; at least one common question exists amongst all class members; and each class member would not only have the same claim under the same section of the TCPA, but their claims and defenses would be largely identical. Further, the Court was satisfied that Head’s counsel could adequately represent Head as well as the interests of the class. On that basis, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion.

Readers interested in further developments to the TCPA should stay tuned to this case. For more information regarding the TCPA or Fitch Law Partners’ Banking litigation practice, please review our website.

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