Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – February 1, 2021 – Attorneys Jeffrey A. Backman, Brian R. Cummings, and Richard W. Epstein, partners of Greenspoon Marder LLP, have secured a major victory for client Royal Seas Cruises, Inc. (“Royal”), and defeated the claims of a certified class of over 82,000 plaintiffs seeking more than $123 million from Royal for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). United States District Court Judge Cynthia Bashant of the Southern District of California entered summary judgment on Friday in favor of Royal on all class claims under the TCPA, and on named Plaintiff Dan DeForest’s claim under the California Invasion of Privacy Act, Cal. Penal Code §632.7.
Royal contracted with a third party to purchase only opt-in, consent-based leads and defended the case throughout the litigation on the merits. Although Royal did not make any telephone calls and never authorized any third party to violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Plaintiffs argued vicarious liability through “ratification,” which the Court soundly rejected.
“There is no evidence that Royal Seas had actual knowledge that the calls made were placed without actually receiving an opt-in from the person being called or that Royal Seas had knowledge of any Telephone Consumer Protection Act violation. Royal Seas specifically contracted for leads that had consented to be called. Plaintiffs simply cannot prove Royal Seas ratified any violation by willful ignorance.”
Judge Bashant’s ruling concluded a heavily-litigated class action dating back to 2017 that Plaintiffs’ attorneys once claimed involved 630 million calls and “billions of dollars in liability.” Plaintiffs initially claimed consent records were “fraudulently manufactured,” a theory the Greenspoon Marder team debunked. The firm successfully narrowed Plaintiffs’ requested class from 58 million to 82,000 people.
“We are extremely pleased that the court saw through the hyperbole of the arguments being made by the Plaintiffs. While it’s easy for counsel to make arguments, it’s a lot harder to satisfy the evidentiary burden required to prevail in court. The actual evidence in the case demonstrated conclusively that Royal hired a third party to only generate lawful, consent-based leads. There was zero evidence to support any wrongdoing on the part of Royal,” said Greenspoon Marder partner Jeffrey A. Backman, lead counsel for Royal in the case. “This case is an example of a client taking the necessary precautions to avoid liability under the TCPA, yet still getting sued and dragged through nearly four years of costly litigation. Fortunately, Royal prevailed when the law was applied to the facts of this case.”
The case is
John McCurley & Dan DeForest v. Royal Seas Cruises, Inc., Case No. 17-cv-009868 (S.D. Cal.).
Mr. Backman is a Co-Chair of Greenspoon Marder Law’s Class Action Defense practice group. Mr. Backman routinely appears in state and federal trial and appellate courts throughout the country. He is based in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office.
Mr. Cummings is a member of Greenspoon Marder’s Creditors’ Rights and Commercial Litigation practice groups. Mr. Cummings routinely appears in state and federal trial and appellate courts throughout the country. He is based in the firm’s Tampa office.
Mr. Epstein is Chair of Greenspoon Marder’s Class Action Defense practice group. Mr. Epstein routinely appears in state and federal trial and appellate courts throughout the country. He is based in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office.
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