First FTSA Class Action Settlement Seeks Approval

TCPA Connect

What is believed to be the first settlement under Florida’s mini-Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) law is seeking judicial approval for a payout of more than $2.5 million.

After coming into effect on July 1, 2021, the Florida Telephone Solicitation Act yielded immediate lawsuits and copycat laws in other states.

One of the first actions filed was by Luis Alvarez, who accused Sunshine Life & Health Advisors of sending marketing text messages using an automated system without permission to Florida residents. Rather than proceed in the federal forum that is generally associated with TCPA litigation, Plaintiff elected to file suit in Florida state court and omitted the TCPA claim entirely. After the trial court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the parties reached a settlement.

The proposed deal would include a $2,556,000 settlement fund used to pay $300 to each class member, a $5,000 incentive award for Alvarez, the costs of notice and settlement administration, and class counsel attorneys’ fees of approximately 20 percent of the total fund (roughly $511,200).

Any part of the settlement fund that is not used to provide relief to these four categories “shall remain with defendant.”

Class members are defined as “[a]ll persons who (1) received a text message (2) by or on behalf of defendant (3) between July 1, 2021, and the date of final approval (4) regarding defendant’s goods and/or services.” The parties estimate the class includes approximately 4,260 persons.

The defendant also promised to adopt policies and procedures to achieve compliance with the FTSA, including obtaining express written consent from recipients of text messages.

In his motion in support of approval of the settlement, Alvarez told the court the deal “meets all requirements” supporting the fairness, adequacy, and reasonableness of the settlement.

Plaintiff has requested that The Motion for Final Approval of the Settlement go forward on November 4, 2022.

To read the motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement in Alvarez v. Sunshine Life & Health Advisors LLC click here.

Why it matters: Florida’s mini-TCPA law has been the subject of many headlines and even more lawsuits since its enactment last year. The first settlement could provide a road map for other cases, with plaintiffs and their attorneys taking note of the $300 per class member payment and total settlement fund of more than $2.5 million. Readers should also take note that the prevalence of these new state mini-TCPAs increases the risk that you may be required to litigate what are essentially TCPA claims in a state court forum—forums that are typically more unpredictable than their federal counterparts.

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