This class action lawsuit alleges that Merchant Capital Source violated provisions of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and associated FCC regulations by placing unsolicited calls to the cellular telephone of the plaintiff and others using an automatic dialing system and a prerecorded voice.
The plaintiff in this case is a resident of Palm Beach County, Florida and the defendant, Merchant Capital Source, LLC has its principal place of business in Huntington Beach, CA. Defendant is engaged in the business of lending money to small businesses, providing small business loans and merchant cash advances. The company's services are offered in Florida and throughout the United States.
According to the complaint, the defendant solicits prospective business customers by engaging in the systematic business practice of placing uninvited telemarketing calls to potential customers and attempting to sell them a small business loan or cash advance. It is alleged that in order to succeed in this endeavor, Merchant Capital Source uses the method of telemarketing solicitation known as "robocalling." It is argued that the defendant purchases telephone number of consumers and places calls to them using automatic dialing systems and prerecorded voice messages.
The plaintiff asserts that if a consumer attempts to place a return call to the number used to contact him or her, they will only reach a recorded opt-out message that does not identify the company originally placing the call. Defendant is accused of taking steps to conceal its identity by using multiple numbers for its robocalls, for which the company has not obtained the consent of the recipients.
On October 6, 2015, the plaintiff received a call on his personal cellular phone regarding his eligibility for a business loan. The prerecorded call said "sorry we missed you" and suggested that he may qualify for business funding. Clearly, the call was made from an automatic dialing system. The number displayed on the plaintiff's caller ID was different from numbers though which he had previously received the same message. After pressing 1 to speak with a live person, the plaintiff was connected to a foreign call center.
After several attempts by the plaintiff to be placed on the company's "do not call list" and assurances that he would be, he continues to receive unsolicited calls via the automatic dialing system. He argues that these calls constitute invasions of his privacy and the cause of constant aggravation, not to mention specific violations of the TCPA.
Because these non-emergency telemarketing calls to the plaintiff were made without prior consent of the recipients, were made with an automatic dialing system and used a prerecorded voice message, the complaint seeks statutory damages in the amount of $500 per violation. The plaintiff also requests damages of $1500 per violation due to the willful and knowing nature of the conduct. Injunctive relief prohibiting additional telemarketing contact of this type and reasonable attorney fees and costs are included in the request for relief.
This lawsuit is dated October 28, 2015. Defendants are afforded 30 days within which to respond, though this period is routinely extended by agreement of the parties.