Lakin firm files nationwide class action against Harrah's in federal court

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 24, 2008, 4:33am

Brad Lakin

A Missouri man is seeking to represent a nationwide class of individuals who received a prerecorded telephone call from Harrah's Metropolis Casino advertising its vacation services.

Richard Vigus claims his case challenges Harrah's policy and practice of transmitting unsolicited prerecorded telephone calls to residential telephone lines because that form of telemarketing invades the privacy rights of others and violates the law.

According to Vigus, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibits a person within the United States from using or having an agent use an autodialer or prerecorded voice to deliver a message to residential telephone numbers.

"The TCPA was enacted to protect privacy rights," the complaint states. "The TCPA provides a private right of action for violations and provides statutory damages of $500.00 per violation."

Vigus claims on July 6, 2007, Harrah's called his telephone line and delivered a message using a pre-recorded voice message. He claims Harrah's made the same phone call to at least 39 other recipients.

"Defendant did not seek or obtain the prior express consent of, or an established business relationship with, the 39 other recipients," the complaint states.

According to Vigus, Harrah's phone call violated the right to privacy afforded to him and other members of the class.

"Defendant knew or should have known that it delivered a prerecorded message to Plaintiff advertising the commercial availability of any property, goods, or services and did not have the prior express consent of Plaintiff to make such telephone contact and that no established business relationship existed with Plaintiff," the complaint states.

Vigus is represented by Brad Lakin, Paul Marks and Robert Schmeider, II of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River. In addition, Phillip Bock of Chicago, Brian Wanca of Rolling Meadows and Max Margulis of Chesterfield, Mo., will represent Vigus and the class.

Plaintiff's counsel is experienced in handling claims brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the suit says.

Margulis' is devoted exclusively to prosecuting TCPA claims.

Vigus is seeking the following judgment:

  • An award $500 for each violation of the TCPA;

  • Treble damages of $1,500 for each violation if the court finds the violations to be willful or knowing; and

  • An award of costs and attorneys fees.

    He seeks to certify a nationwide class consisting of all residential telephone customers who were called on that residential telephone line on or after November 5, 2004 by or on behalf of Harrah's using a prerecorded voice to deliver a message promoting their vacation services and did not provide them with prior express consent to place the call and did not have an established business relationship with Harrah's.

    Vigus' motion for class certification states the putative class is so numerous that individual joinder is impracticable because more than 100 people fit the class definition.

    In addition, Vigus argues that there are questions of law and fact common to the members of the class that predominate over any questions affecting only individual members of the class.

    Vigus argues his claims are typical of the claims of the other members of the class and that the members of the class were treated in substantially the same way and their claims are based on the same factual and legal theories.

    "A class action is superior to other alternative methods of adjudicating this dispute," the class certification motion states. "Individual cases are not economically feasible and would needlessly waste judicial resources."

    The case has been assigned to District Judge J. Phil Gilbert in Benton. It was originally assigned to Judge William Stiehl, but he entered an order of recusal in the case.

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