Rauner agrees to settle robocall lawsuit for $1 million
Former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. (Credit: State of Illinois)
Class members argue ex-governor’s telemarketing violated federal law
By SARAH MANSUR
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — People targeted by a campaign robocall from former Gov. Bruce Rauner since his first campaign in 2014 will be eligible to earn a portion of a $1 million settlement agreement that was reached last month in a class-action case.
The agreement would end the federal lawsuit against the former governor and his campaign entity, Citizens for Rauner, that was brought by Peter Garvey, an Illinois resident who received three prerecorded voice mails from Rauner’s campaign in 2018.
The amount owed to each person has not been determined, according to the settlement notice website, because the total number of class members and the costs of settlement administration, as well as attorney’s fees, haven’t been finalized.
The number of class members could exceed 35,000 people, according to Garvey’s lawsuit.
As part of the settlement agreement, Rauner and his campaign deny all allegations of wrongdoing and liability made it the lawsuit.
The campaign robocalls that left prerecorded voicemails to Garvey’s cellphone encouraged people to vote for Rauner in the upcoming March 2018 primary election.
The 30-second message featuring Rauner’s voice said, in part, “Illinois is worth fightin’ for and with real reform together we can bring back Illinois and provide the future our children deserve. Please join me in the fight against Mike Madigan and his special interest allies. I’m askin’ for your vote on Tuesday, March 20.”
The messages were left through so-called “ringless voicemails,” which is technology used to deliver voicemail messages the same way as text messages.
The lawsuit claimed that the ringless voicemails made to class members, like Garvey, violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
A violation of the federal TCPA is defined as making “any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice … to any telephone number assigned to a … cellular telephone service….”
Under the TCPA, individuals or companies that violate the law must pay at least $500 in damages, per violation.
Garvey’s lawsuit argued that the voice messages caused him and the class members “actual harm, including invasion of privacy, aggravation, annoyance, intrusion on seclusion, trespass, and conversion,” the lawsuit states.
Last month, a federal judge preliminarily approved the proposed settlement agreement. The final hearing on the agreement is set for Sept. 7.
John Sawin, a Chicago lawyer who represents Garvey and the class, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Lawyers for Rauner and his campaign also did not respond when reached for comment.
The deadline for class members to submit claim forms and be eligible for monetary compensation from the $1 million settlement fund is Aug. 11.
More information about the settlement or submitting a claim is available at www.CitizensForRaunerTCPASettlement.com.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.