Q: Can I sue a company for TCPA violations in my local small claims court if the telemarketer’s in a different state?
A company called me 18 times, even though I’m on the national do not call registry, and have been since 2016 (I have proof of both, and the telemarketer recorded a voicemail every time).
Since I don’t have an existing relationship with the company, I understand each call allows me to collect $500.00 in damages for every individual call. I sent a demand letter for the maximum amount I can collect in small claims, but can I even sue this company in small claims when they’re in a different state? If not, how can I sue them without a lawyer in a different state (and not have to appear in court in that state)?
I know people do these lawsuits and win, so it IS possible, but I can’t find the answer to my question online.
A: I think you're right that you can sue them. I would try consulting a consumer rights attorney before trying it on my own. And I would plan to go ahead and sue in the general civil division (district court), not small claims. In small claims, neither party can have an attorney, and a business can only be represented by a licensed attorney, so if you start in small claims, the first thing they are going to do is remove it to general civil anyway to allow for the appearance of their attorney.
Yes, you can sue them in Small Claims here in Michigan. Once you do so, (if this is a legit company), they will remove the case to the general docket.
TCPA cases are complex. You may be able to recover $1,500 per call if the conduct was willful. Demonstrating willfulness is difficult and may require discovery - which you won't get in Small Claims court. As always, you should consult a lawyer who specializes in TCPA law.
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