On May 20, 2021, the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois approved the final distribution plan in a long-standing class action case to resolve allegations that Caribbean Cruise Line, Inc. (CCL) and others violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for making millions of automated telephone calls to consumers without their consent between August 2011 and August of 2012.
The two classes of plaintiffs, divided into those who received calls to cellphones and those who received calls to landline phones, filed a suit in 2012 alleging that CCL, the Economic Strategy Group Companies, The Berkley Group, Inc. and Vacation Ownership Marketing Tours, Inc. (VOMT) placed robocalls offering plaintiffs a “free” cruise package from CCL in exchange for taking a survey that was purportedly a political or public opinion poll. The survey was actually an unsolicited telemarking tool allegedly intended to sell vacation time shares. The plaintiffs and class members alleged that each call was a willful violation of the TCPA and sought to recover statutory damages as well as treble damages from defendants for their repeated violations of the TCPA.
In March of 2017, the Illinois district court approved the parties’ settlement in which defendants agreed to establish a fund between $56 million and $76 million depending upon the number of approved claims. In August of 2019, two years after the settlement was approved, the court approved an initial distribution of $200 for each class member who had an approved claim, pending the outcome of a few challenges to the settlement in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Finally, on May 20, 2021, the Illinois district court approved the distribution of remaining settlement funds following the Seventh Circuit’s confirmation of the settlement setting the fund at $76 million based on 184,427 calls.
Under the distribution plan, each of the four named plaintiffs will receive $10,000, with counsel receiving net proceeds of almost $18.5 million, and after notice and administrative fees are paid, the remaining funds will be distributed to class members. Following court costs and attorneys’ fees, each call was found to be worth approximately $302 with a majority of the approximately 58,000 claimants receiving more than $600 apiece.
Order Approving Final Distribution Plan | Minute Entry Granting Plaintiff’s Motion for Approval | Plaintiff’s Motion for Approval of Distribution Plan |Seventh Circuit Order | Memorandum Opinion and Order (2015) | Amended Consolidated Complaint (2015)