Ind. AG to attend hearing on state's robo-call ban

Jessica M. Karmasek Jan. 20, 2012, 9:39am


INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is continuing his defense of the state's robo-call ban.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit was expected to hear arguments Friday in a case challenging Indiana's ban. According to the Attorney General's Office, Zoeller planned to attend the hearing.

"The state will use all of our resources available to continue defending our state's laws and consumers in this latest challenge to our auto-dialing statutes," he said in a statement.

The Seventh Circuit recently granted Indiana's request for a stay of a federal court's injunction against enforcing the ban. The stay allows the state to enforce the ban until a full appeal of the court's injunction is completed.

Indiana law currently allows robo-calls to households only if a live operator first obtains the consumer's permission or if the recipient opts in to receiving such calls.

Under the Automatic Dialing Machine statute, violations of the law can result in the attorney general filing a lawsuit seeking an injunction and civil penalties up to $5,000 against those responsible.

In September, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled that the state's law is preempted by the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which allows for these types of calls.

The decision came after a political advocacy organization based in Illinois, Patriotic Veterans Inc., challenged Indiana's statute.

"This case reflects only a portion of the overall efforts of the Attorney General's Office to protect the state's strict telephone privacy laws," Zoeller said Thursday.

"Consumers have come to know and expect to be shielded from unwanted robo-calls. That's why our office will continue the fight against current and future challenges to these important protections."

The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the state's ban, saying the law does not violate free speech.

The 4-1 decision, handed down last month, came after contested the constitutionality of Indiana's law after robo-calling residents during a 2006 congressional campaign.

Zoeller said the final decision in that case is still pending.

The Indiana attorney general also led the effort to kill federal legislation that would have allowed robo-calls from debt collectors and other businesses to cell phones.

The bill, House Resolution 3035 or the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011, looks to be dead for now.

Last month, U.S. Reps. Lee Terry, R-Neb., and Ed Towns, D-N.Y., sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., who serves as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asking Upton that the legislation not be advanced.

The lawmakers told Upton there was "no hope" for the bill, which was heavily targeted by the nation's state attorneys general.

In a letter to members of Congress, the National Association of Attorneys General, or NAAG, asked federal lawmakers to vote down the bill.

Zoeller said his office alone, in the past two years, has received more than 10,000 complaints regarding unwanted telemarketing calls -- with about 72 percent of them concerning auto-dialed calls or robo-calls.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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