In 2012 Mike Huckabee recorded a robocall for a movie production company touting the film “Last Ounce of Courage,” which opened in theaters on September 14, 2012. Approximately 3.2 million people received the recorded voice of Huckabee telling them what a great movie this was, and every single one of those calls were illegal according to the provisions of the Telephone Consumers Protection Act.
They weren’t impressed by the movie plug.
In fact, they were so totally unimpressed that they sued the advertising company that conducted the robocalls. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
‘A federal judge here Thursday awarded $32.4 million to a St. Louis County couple and 3.2 million others who improperly received robocalls in 2012.
‘U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber could have awarded $1.6 billion, or $500 per call, under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, but wrote “the amount of damages prescribed by the statute are so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportionate to the offense and obviously unreasonable.”’
The initial filing made by Ron and Dorit Golan, of St. Louis County, included defendants Mike Huckabee, Billionaire James Leininger, and the advertising company, ccAdvertising owned by Gabriel Joseph III, of Virginia, and comprised of AIC Communications LLC and Freeeats.com Inc. Huckabee, as the voice of the call, was dropped from the lawsuit first and later testified in hearings. His testimony centered on whether the content and logistics of the calls was ever discussed with primary investor James Leininger, who put “$10 million into the marketing of the movie, part of which went to fund the robocall campaign.” Jurors determined that Leininger did not have enough of a say in the robocall campaign to be held liable and released him from culpability in the lawsuit.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber wrote:
‘The amount of damages prescribed by the statute are so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportionate to the offense and obviously unreasonable,” Webber wrote, while adding that the TCPA is designed to have a “deterrent effect and to account for unquantifiable losses including the invasions of privacy, unwanted interruptions and disruptions at home, and the wasted time spent answering unwanted solicitation calls or unwanted voice messages.’
The TCPA allows for a fine of $500 per call, but Judge Webber determined that:
‘[T]he amount of damages prescribed by the statute are so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportionate to the offense and obviously unreasonable.’
Webber reduced the amount of the award to $10 per call, making the entire sum $32.4 million. Lawyer for the Golans, Kevin Carnie, Jr., argued that Webber did not have discretion to lower the amount of award and intends to appeal the final amount. According to a phone interview with Carnie, he expressed pleasure about the verdict, but added that his clients intended to appeal both the amount and the exclusion of culpability for Leininger.
The companies involved in the lawsuit are both going out of business and are unlikely to pay anything on this settlement, according to attorney Teresa Young, who represented the defendants.
Watch the movie trailer here: