Hilton Subsidiary Can’t Escape Suit Over Vacation Ad Calls

Law360, New York (January 4, 2017, 5:28 PM EST) — A Florida federal judge on Tuesday refused to allow a Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. subsidiary out of a proposed class action accusing the company of violating consumers’ privacy by using an autodialer to place prerecorded telemarketing calls, ruling the individual who brought the suit properly pled her claims.
U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore said he would not dismiss Melanie Glasser’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act claims against Hilton Grand Vacations LLC, a subsidiary that offers resort timeshares for consumers, because she properly pled her claims under the law, according to the order. However, according to Judge Whittemore, Glasser’s claims meet the standard for concrete injury under the TCPA. He added there is no need for her to allege she answered the calls.

“Plaintiff alleges that she received unauthorized automated calls to her cellular telephone, that her privacy was invaded, that her cellular telephone’s battery was diminished and that she was charged to receive incoming calls,” the order said. “Unsolicited calls are a ‘nuisance’ and an ‘invasion of privacy.’”

In addition, the company’s request to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Virginia was also denied. It had claimed that Glasser consented to the calls by signing up for the HHonors Program, which makes her subject to a forum selection clause, according to court documents.

Hilton relies on two different definitions of its reward program — one from 2010 and one from 2013, which Judge Whittemore said supersedes all previous versions — and it never produced any evidence or argument that Glasser was subject to the forum selection clause in the first place, according to the order.

Glasser filed her suit in April, accusing the company of calling her repeatedly in February as part of an attempt to have her sign up for a promotional vacation package. She filed suit on behalf of all individuals who received those promotional calls since October 2013, court documents said.

The company originally sought dismissal from two separate June motions, making the same assertions. However, in September it was forced to strike the dismissal requests because they were not properly filed as one motion.

It repackaged and refiled the attempt at dismissal at the end of September.

Representatives for both parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Glasser is represented by Amanda Allen and William Howard of the Consumer Protection Firm PLLC and Timothy Sostrin of Keogh Law Ltd.

Hilton Grand Vacations is represented by Sandra Millor of Akerman LLP.

The case is Glasser v. Hilton Grand Vacations, case number 8:16-cv-00952, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.

–Editing by Philip Shea.


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