Preliminary Approval Granted in TCPA Class Action Against Aaron’s Inc.

On May 1, 2020, Judge J.P. Boulee of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued an order granting preliminary approval of this class action settlement.

This case was originally filed on June 8, 2018 by Plaintiff Matthew Grogan (“Grogan”) against Aaron’s Inc. (“Aaron’s”) for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).  Grogan alleged that, notwithstanding a Federal Communication Commission citation issued to Aaron’s, Aaron’s continually violated the TCPA by making calls to Grogan and class members using an “automatic telephone dialing system” and an “artificial or prerecorded voice” without prior express consent.  Aaron’s is a Georgia-based company that leases furniture, appliances, and electronic devices to consumers and, apparently, uses pre-recorded and automatically dialed messages to solicit payment from individuals it believes to be its debtors.  Specifically, Grogan alleged that he began receiving numerous autodialed, pre-recorded calls from Aaron’s on his cell phone, and Aaron’s even left messages on his voicemail requesting that he return the call.  Grogan, however, was not even an Aaron’s customer, and did not provide his “prior express consent” allowing Aaron’s to place telephone calls to his cell phone using an “artificial or prerecorded voice” placed by an “automatic dialing system.”  Grogan alleged that this practice violated the TCPA.

On December 9, 2019, Grogan filed a motion to certify the proposed class. Shortly thereafter, the parties informed the Court that they had reached a settlement.  Accordingly, on April 9, 2020, the Court denied the motion without prejudice, noting that the motion could be refiled in the event that settlement negotiations failed. However, settlement negotiations were successful, and the parties filed an unopposed motion for settlement on April 29, 2020.

Under the preliminarily-approved settlement, Aaron’s will create a $2.18 million non-reversionary cash settlement fund to compensate Settlement Class members, which will be distributed on a pro rata basis to each valid claimant.  The Settlement Class is defined as follows:

All persons in the United States (1) who were the subscribers or customary users of a telephone number that was Called by Defendant; (2) with the Genesys Interactive Intelligence System and/or an artificial or prerecorded voice; (3) from June 8, 2014 through the date the Court grants preliminary approval of the Settlement; (4) where that telephone number has been associated with a wrap-up code of “wrong party” at any time in Defendant’s records.

Notice will be sent by mail to Settlement Class members and will be available online at a settlement website, to be established.  Settlement Class members will be able to submit claims electronically through the website, by mail, or by phone.

The legal team at SFMS has significant experience litigating consumer protection class action matters, including TCPA cases. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this posting, please contact John Roberts (jroberts@sfmslaw.com) or Alec Berin (aberin@sfmslaw.com). We can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP is a law firm with offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. SFMS is an active member of Integrated Advisory Group (www.iaginternational.org), which provides us with the ability to provide our clients with access to excellent legal and accounting resources throughout the globe. For more information about our firm, please call us at 877-891-9880 or visit us online.

Author: Jaclyn Reinhart

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