SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a $210 million multistate settlement against Dish Network (Dish), concluding an 11-year legal dispute over the company’s illegal telemarketing campaigns. In 2017, a district court found Dish violated telemarketing laws through millions of illegal telemarketing calls to sell and promote its satellite TV services and programming packages, including unwanted robocalls to thousands of people registered on the Do Not Call registry, many of them Californians. Under the terms of today’s settlement, California will receive $39.9 million.
“Unwanted telemarketing calls are a nuisance and can be an illegal invasion of privacy,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Californians have the power to join the Do Not Call list to avoid harassing calls. Unfortunately, Dish Network flouted the rules and now they will pay.”
The settlement resolves a 2009 lawsuit against Dish by California, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, and the federal government for illegal telemarketing. In 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois awarded the plaintiffs $280 million, with $53.3 million in civil penalties and statutory damages going to California. The judgment included an injunction designed to prevent similar misconduct in the future, including requirements that Dish demonstrate its compliance with various telemarketing rules.
Dish appealed the judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which upheld the lower court’s judgment and injunction. However, the appellate court vacated the lower court’s damages and penalties award, stating it should be recalculated. The parties agreed to resolve the remaining monetary portion of the case with today’s settlement.
The settlement affirms Attorney General Becerra’s commitment to stopping illegal telemarketing schemes. In October, Attorney General Becerra joined a bipartisan, multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt a consumer-friendly interpretation of federal law related to robocalling systems. A narrow interpretation of the law would allow calls and texts that invade consumer privacy and could perpetrate scams against Californians. In June, Attorney General Becerra joined 52 attorneys general in urging telecommunications trade group USTelecom to continue to expand their enforcement efforts against illegal robocalls.
A copy of the settlement can be found here.