SC civil justice group backs reform of Hollings' Telephone Consumer Protection Act; House panel holds hearing this week

The South Carolina Civil Justice Coalition (SCCJC) is among groups urging Congress to reform the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a law meant to restrict telemarketers that was originally sponsored by Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D-SC) in the early 1990’s.

SCCJC was one of 27 different business organizations to co-sign a letter last week to House Energy and Commerce Committee calling for reform of the law. Also signing that letter was the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, News Media Alliance, and the National Restaurant Association, among others.

“When the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was written 25 years ago, it was well-intentioned legislation serving the important purpose of protecting the privacy of Americans against abusive telemarketing calls,” reads the letter. “Since then, the TCPA has become an engine for abusive class action litigation—hitting businesses both large and small.”

According to the letter, 3,710 TCPA lawsuits were filed in federal court in 2015, and the amount of TCPA litigation filed in federal court increased by 940% between 2010 and 2015.

In an interview with Palmetto Business Daily last January, Becca Wahlquist, an attorney with Snell & Wilmer, said the TCPA has become a “destructive force that threatens companies with annihilation for technical violations that cause no actual injury or harm to any consumer.”

“Many businesses don’t even know the TCPA exists until they are handed their first lawsuit,” Wahlquist said. “Even businesses calling to confirm appointments or collect a payment are falling victim.”

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine reforms to the law this Thursday, September 22, at 11 a.m.

“As technology evolves, so too should our laws. The TCPA should be ensuring Americans receive the calls they want without being harassed by calls they don’t. Instead, it’s a prime example of an outdated law that lags behind modern communications technology and consumer preferences,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), chair of the subcommittee, in a statement announcing the hearing. “We will focus on the impact the law is having on folks and examine ways in which we can modernize this law for 21st century.”

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Organizations in this Story

South Carolina Civil Justice Coalition U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) U.S. Representative Greg Walden (OR-2)

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