The holidays are upon us.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all, right? Well, unfortunately, this time of year often results in lawsuits heated enough to melt even Jack Frost himself. This post discusses one current class action case and provides a link to a humorous look at some of the biggest holiday hot-button issues.
In 2012, millions of Americans received a prerecorded message from former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The message asked if the recipient believed in “traditional American values” and suggested they may enjoy the movie Last Ounce of Courage. The movie features a decorated war veteran and small-town mayor erecting Christmas trees and statues of angels in the town square in an attempt to honor his fallen soldier son. The religious display on public grounds inevitably sparks a lawsuit led by the “American Civil Liberties Organization.” Promoted as a film in response to the “war on Christmas”, Last Ounce of Courage did not fare well among critics. But the prerecorded calls voiced by Huckabee ended up stealing the show.
In 2014, Ron and Dorit Golan filed suit against Huckabee and several other parties involved in the making of the movie, alleging that the prerecorded calls violated their rights under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Under the Act, it is illegal “to initiate any telephone call to any residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver a message without the prior express consent of the called party…” The Golans had placed their names on the federal “Do Not Call” list in March 2012, so when they received the promotional voicemail that fall, they were irritated to say the least.
Though the case was initially dismissed in 2014, the Golans appealed and the 8th Circuit allowed the proceedings to continue in June of 2015. In January of this year, a U.S. District Court judge certified a class action, allowing the 4 million other recipients of the prerecorded calls to join the lawsuit. On September 7, 2017, the judge handed down a $32 million dollar judgment, stating that he felt a penalty of $10 per call adequately reflected “the severity of the offense.” The Golans have said they plan to appeal what they feel is an insufficient award.
The Huckabee robocall case is only the most recent in a long line of decoration-directed lawsuits. For more examples of holiday humbugs, take a look at this article: 11 Times the Holidays Resulted in a Fa-La-La-La-Lawsuit | Mental Floss.
For more informaton on how to navigate the holidays, contact one of our Sioux City attorneys, Sioux Falls attorneys, or Omaha attorneys today! For more trial law content, visit our Trial Law Review blog!