Holiday Cruise Line Robocall Class Action
Our firm represents the class certified in Bakov v. Consolidated World Travel, Inc., No. 15-cv-2980 (N.D. Ill.), consisting of hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents who received robocalls from Holiday Cruise Line in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
The purpose of this page is to make general information about this lawsuit available to members of the class and general public. For the most up-to-date information, please contact Jeremy Nash, who is overseeing litigation for the plaintiffs.
What This Lawsuit Is About
Holiday Cruise Line promotes vacation packages by mail, direct dial telephone calls, telephone call transfers, television, and radio for the purpose of selling vacation packages over the phone. The vacation package at issue in this lawsuit is a “free” two-night cruise for two aboard the Grand Celebration cruise ship. Holiday Cruise Line hired an Indian company called Virtual Voice Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (VVT) to help market and sell this vacation package.
From December 29, 2014 through March 20, 2016, plaintiffs allege that VVT called millions of people in the United States on behalf of Holiday Cruise Line to offer anybody who was interested “a free cruise simply to show you a great time.” Every call began with the same introduction: “Hi, this is Jennifer with Holiday Cruise Line on a recorded line. Can you hear me okay?” However, there was no “Jennifer” and there was no “free cruise.”
Instead of using their own voices, plaintiffs allege that VVT’s agents used “soundboard” telemarketing technology to play prerecorded voice messages or prompts. The people who answered these calls were listening to a recording of a professional voice actor reading from a script approved by Holiday Cruise Line and not a live call center agent. Plaintiffs also allege that Holiday Cruise Line was not out to give anyone a “free” cruise. Plaintiffs allege that what Holiday Cruise Line really wanted was to “upsell” plaintiffs and members of class on its bigger vacation packages that ran a thousand dollars or more.
(This case has yet to reach the merits of plaintiffs’ allegations or Holiday Cruise Line’s defenses. Plaintiffs have not proved any of their allegations to be true and the Court has not made any findings with respect to those allegations. Holiday Cruise Line has not admitted to any wrongdoing and denies that its telemarketing program was improper in any way.)
Making Robocalls Using “Prerecorded Voice” May Be Illegal
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a consumer protection statute designed to combat the “intrusive invasion of privacy” caused by “[u]nrestricted telemarketing,” according to the Supreme Court. Mims v. Arrow Fin. Servs., LLC, 565 U.S. 368, 372 (2012).
In enacting the TCPA, Congress reported that “[m]any consumers are outraged over the proliferation of intrusive, nuisance calls to their homes from telemarketers.” TCPA, Pub L. No. 102-243, § 2 (1991). “[R]egardless of the content or the initiator of the message,” prerecorded telephone calls made to private residences, Congress found, were rightly regarded by recipients as “a nuisance and an invasion of privacy.” Id. “Banning such . . . prerecorded telephone calls to the home, except when the receiving party consents to receiving the call or when such calls are necessary in an emergency situation affecting the health and safety of the consumer, is the only effective means of protecting telephone consumers from this nuisance and privacy invasion.” Id.
“Congress therefore put the responsibility for compliance with the [TCPA] directly on the party that ‘makes’ or ‘initiates’ automated and prerecorded message calls.” In re Rules & Regulations Implementing the Tel. Consumer Prot. Act of 1991, 30 F.C.C. Rcd. 7961, 7980 (F.C.C. 2015).
Specifically, among various limitations the TCPA imposes on telemarketers, is a ban on the use of prerecorded voice messages:
It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States . . . (A) to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using . . . prerecorded voice . . . (iii) to any telephone number assigned to a . . . cellular telephone service . . . (B) to initiate any telephone call to any residential telephone line using . . . prerecorded voice to deliver a message without the prior express consent of the called party[.]
47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A)–(B) (emphasis supplied). Pursuant to Section 227(b)(1)(B), the FCC promulgated a comprehensive set of rules governing telemarketing and telephone solicitations that contain terms similar to—though more comprehensive than—the TCPA. See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200, et seq.
The TCPA and FCC’s ban on the use of prerecorded voice messaging in telemarketing is not without limits. Where those limits do not apply, as in this lawsuit against Holiday Cruise Line, the TCPA provides consumers with a private right of action to seek injunctive relief and a minimum of $500 in damages for each violation of the law. 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(3). If the defendant knowingly or willfully violated the TCPA, the court has discretion to triple the damages award to $1,500 per violation. Id.
The Illinois Residents-Only Class
Plaintiffs asked the Court to certify the following nationwide class:
All persons in the United States (1) who Virtual Voice Technologies Pvt. Ltd. called from December 29, 2014 through March 20, 2016 to market a cruise aboard the Grand Celebration cruise liner sold by Consolidated World Travel, Inc. (d/b/a Holiday Cruise Line), and (2) who answered such call or calls.
On March 21, 2019, the Court granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, but only as to Illinois residents.
As a result, the plaintiffs represent only Illinois residents who answered a call made on Holiday Cruise Line’s behalf during the Class Period. That includes Illinois residents who hung up immediately after answering the call, who were transferred to a live operator, and who ultimately purchased a vacation package from Holiday Cruise Line. For such Illinois residents, plaintiffs are seeking the maximum damages award available under the law, which is $1,500 per illegal call.
Illinois Residents-Only Class members do not need to do anything now to participate in this lawsuit.
Information for Non-Illinois Residents
If you believe you received a robocall from Holiday Cruise Line between December 29, 2014 and March 20, 2016 but do not live in Illinois, please contact Jeremy Nash for more information about how the Court’s decision to limit the class to Illinois residents may impact your rights.
• Discovery: Concluded.
• Motion to Dismiss: Granted in part, denied in part.
• Motion for Class Certification: Granted in part, denied in part.
• Motion for Summary Judgement: To be determined.
• Trial: To be determined.
• Decision on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss
• Plaintiffs’ Public Redacted Brief in Support of Class Certification
• Plaintiffs’ Public Redacted Reply in Support of Class Certification
• Decision on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification