The U.S. Department of Justice, at the Federal Trade Commission’s request, filed suit today in federal district court charging that satellite television provider Dish Network, directly and through its authorized dealers, called numerous consumers whose numbers are on the National Do Not Call Registry. The United States also charged Dish Network, previously known as EchoStar, with violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by assisting and supporting its authorized dealers in telemarketing Dish Network services via “robocalls” that deliver prerecorded telemarketing messages when consumers answer their phones.
“Since the National Do Not Call Registry was launched, it has been enormously effective at protecting millions of Americans from unwanted telemarketing calls at home,” said Eileen Harrington, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But because a few bad actors still don’t get it, we want to make it crystal clear. If you call consumers whose numbers are on the Do Not Call Registry, you’re breaking the law. If your authorized dealers call consumers whose numbers are on the Registry, you’re breaking the law. Either way, we will protect the privacy of American consumers and we will hold you accountable.”
The government seeks a permanent injunction against Dish Network that prohibits the satellite TV provider from violating the TSR (including its Do Not Call provisions and abandoned call restrictions), either directly or through its authorized dealers; requires Dish Network to monitor and enforce its authorized dealers’ compliance with the TSR; and prohibits Dish Network from assisting and facilitating violations. The government also seeks civil penalties for Dish’s violations.
The complaint announced against Dish Network today is being brought jointly with the
Attorneys General of California, Illinois, Ohio, and North Carolina as co-plaintiffs. In addition to the TSR violations alleged by the United States, the complaint includes allegations brought solely by the state Attorneys General. They include allegations that Dish Network violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and state law – either directly or indirectly as a result of third parties acting on its behalf – by calling numbers on the Do Not Call Registry and by placing telemarketing calls that deliver prerecorded messages to live consumers.
The FTC also announced today that, at its request, the Justice Department is filing complaints against two of Dish Network’s authorized dealers, accusing them of violating the TSR by calling consumers whose numbers are on the Registry. The principals of those authorized dealers are also named in those complaints. The three complaints announced today were filed against: 1) Dish Network, LLC, formerly known as EchoStar; 2) Vision Quest, LLC, and its principal Brian K. Cavett; and 3) New Edge Satellite, Inc., and its principal Derek LaVictor.
In connection with the same conduct alleged in the complaint filed today against Dish Network, at the FTC’s request, the Justice Department filed suit in the summer of 2008 against two other Dish Network authorized dealers and their principals: Planet Earth Satellite, Inc., d/b/a Teichert Marketing; and Star Satellite, LLC, d/b/a Tenaya Marketing. These authorized dealers settled the charges against them. The press release announcing those settlements can be found at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/07/dishtm.shtm. Combined, they paid total penalties of $95,000.
The Commission vote approving each of the three complaints announced today was 4-0. They were filed by the Justice Department on the FTC’s behalf on March 25, 2009. The complaint against Dish Network, LLC, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois. The complaints against Vision Quest, LLC, and Brian K. Cavett, and against New Edge Satellite Inc. and Derek LaVictor, were both filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of complaints when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaints are not a finding or ruling that the defendants actually have violated the law.
Copies of the complaints are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(FTC File No. 052-3167; Civ. Nos. 3:09-cv-03073-JES-CHE (Dish Network); 09-cv-11100 (New Edge Satellite); and 09-cv-11102 (Vision Quest))