CHARLESTON – A Charleston attorney helped an Eastern Panhandle man secure a $22,500 award for damages after Dish Network repeatedly called him attempting to collect a debt from the man who previously had the phone number.
Harry F. Bell Jr., managing partner of The Bell Law Firm, worked with the Tampa, Fla., firm of Morgan & Morgan to secure the federal court ruling for Chester Moore, who filed suit against Dish in the Northern District of West Virginia Martinsburg, for unwarranted phone calls it made to his number in 2012.
"We are very pleased that our team was able to get the court to agree these calls were clearly in violation of the law,” Bell said in a statement.
In the Oct. 16 ruling, Judge Gina Groh found that Dish had committed numerous violations of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act by calling Moore 31 times to collect a debt from a former Dish customer who previously had Moore’s cell phone number.
Groh awarded triple damages to Moore for numerous calls he received from Dish after he called the company several times to clarify that he was not the former customer. In fact, Moore never had been a Dish customer.
The court awarded Moore $500 each for 24 unwanted calls, and $1,500 each for seven calls he received after notifying Dish that he was not the person the company was trying to contact.
The TCPA prohibits companies from making calls using an automated dialing system or artificial or prerecorded voice to cell phone customers, unless the call recipient has given prior consent or the call is made for emergency purposes.
Bell believes this decision is an important one for consumers.
"The Bell Law Firm is pleased to partner with our good friends and fine lawyers at Morgan & Morgan in standing up for people against intrusive business practices,” he said in a statement. "Consumers are subjected to so many harassing and intrusive actions these days, it is refreshing to see a Federal Judge agree and hold the wrongdoers accountable."
Northern District of West Virginia case number 3:13-CV-36