The Department of Justice and DISH Network settled an investigation into alleged telemarketing violations. In the deal to end the litigation, DISH agreed to admit guilt, and pay a $126 million civil penalty. The DOJ called the amount the largest civil penalty ever paid to resolve telemarketing violations under the Federal Trade Commission’s Act and exceeds the total penalties paid to the government by all prior violators of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
DISH will also pay a combined $84 million to four states for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, for a total settlement of $210 million. “The settlement sends a strong message to would-be violators that telemarketing laws and regulations cannot be ignored,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the DOJ’s Civil Division.
The case was filed in 2009 and went to trial in 2016. The United States — along with its co-plaintiffs, the States of California, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio — alleged that DISH made millions of unlawful telemarketing calls to consumers and was responsible for millions more made by retailers that marketed DISH products and services. In a 2017 opinion, the district court found DISH liable for more than 66 million telemarketing violations of the TSR and other federal and state statutes, imposing significant compliance measures on DISH and awarding the plaintiffs $280 million in civil penalties and damages, with $168 million going to the United States and $112 million to the state plaintiffs.
In 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed those liability findings. But the appeals court vacated and remanded the civil penalties and damages awards for recalculation.
As reflected in the judgment entered by the court Monday, DISH will pay the United States $126 million in civil penalties to resolve the monetary portion of the case and has agreed not to contest the court’s factual findings or liability determination. DISH will continue to follow the compliance measures imposed by the court in 2017.
The injunction prohibits any future telemarketing violations and significantly restricts DISH’s future telemarketing activities, according to the DOJ. DISH also has been ordered to prepare and abide by a telemarketing plan, submit telemarketing compliance materials to the department and the FTC twice annually until 2027, and provide compliance reports requested by the DOJ or the FTC.
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