TCPA Class Action Filed Against MIT

Plaintiff David James Fister filed a class action complaint against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on April, 22, alleging that it violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and FCC regulations by sending an abundance of unwanted robocalls and text messages. The case will be heard in the District of Massachusetts.

Fister claimed to have received a number of telemarketing text messages and robocalls from MIT despite never providing written consent. The alleged communications began after Fister “engaged in some internet research regarding…MIT’s ‘Drug and Medical Device Development Program’ (DMDDP).” He was subsequently sent various messages promoting webinars and reminding about registration deadlines, among others. Fister believes that the messages were sent automatically due to their “generic nature and repetitive content.” 

As a foundation for this case, the complaint cites the TCPA and the FCC’s rules regarding automatic telemarketing calls. Among other things, the TCPA regulates the usage of automated telephone dialing systems (ATDS) to send text messages or make calls. According to the complaint, “the TCPA prohibits the use of an automated telephone dialing system to make any telemarketing call…to a wireless number in the absence of an emergency or the prior express written consent of the called party.” The FCC additionally ordered in 2013 that consumers must provide clear written consent to receive telemarketing robocalls.

Fister filed the complaint on behalf of himself and others similarly situated. The representative classes consist of those who received one or more telemarketing messages from MIT, even after replying, “stop.”  The complaint details how all members of the class were harmed, saying, “they were annoyed and harassed, and, in some instances, they were charged for incoming calls. Plaintiff and the Class Members were also harmed by use of their cell phone battery and the intrusion on their cellular telephone that occupied it from receiving legitimate communications.”

As a result of MIT’s alleged telemarketing practices, Fister seeks an award of damages amounting to $1,500 for each knowing or willful violation, and injunctive relief prohibiting the defendant from further using an ATDS.