North Carolina $14M record telemarketing penalty

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s public schools will receive $14 million for the state’s share of a record settlement with a satellite television company that federal courts have determined participated in unlawful telemarketing activities.

State Attorney General Josh Stein and other government attorneys who anchored the litigation against Dish Network announced the $210 million settlement several months after a federal appeals court decision addressing a 2017 trial judgment in Illinois.

Dish will pay $126 million to the federal government, with the remainder being distributed to North Carolina and three other states, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The judgment had found Dish accountable for millions of unwanted calls to people on the Do Not Call Registry and for tens of millions of illegal robocalls, Stein’s office said in a news release on Monday.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision but vacated $280 million in awards, saying the total should be recalculated, according to the California attorney general’s office, which was involved in the case. That led to the settlement, which also requires Dish Network to alter its telemarketing practices.

“Companies cannot use aggressive tactics to take people’s hard-earned money,” Stein said. Attorneys general of Illinois and Ohio and the Federal Trade Commission also were involved in the settlement, according to his office. The lawsuit was filed in 2009, when now-Gov. Roy Cooper was North Carolina attorney general.

The settlement is the largest civil penalty ever paid to resolve telemarketing under FTC laws, federal attorneys said in a separate release.

Dish said in an emailed statement on Monday that “we respectfully disagree with the underlying liability judgment,” but consider the matter resolved.

“We have long taken our compliance with telemarketing laws seriously and we maintain rigorous telemarketing compliance procedures and policies,” the statement said.

Stein urged the General Assembly to direct the state’s share of settlement proceeds to improve broadband access that benefit students working at home during the pandemic.

Copyright 2020, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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