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September 23, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Rockland man swats at pestiferous mosquito calls

A Rockland man bugged by telemarketers has sued a mosquito and tick control service to stop a plague of pesky robocalls.

Samuel Lenorowitz of Pomona filed a class action lawsuit May 16 in federal court in White Plains against Mosquito Squad Franchising and Mosquito Squad of Fairfield and Westchester.

Automated and prerecorded phone solicitations are a “nuisance and an invasion of privacy,” according to the complaint filed by attorney Yitzchak Zelman of Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Nikki Rode, a spokeswoman for Virginia-based Mosquito Squad Franchising, said the company does not discuss the specifics of pending litigation. The local Mosquito Squad, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, did not respond to phone messages asking for their side of the story.

“Say good riddance to mosquitoes,” the Mosquito Squad says on its website. “The only good mosquito is a dead one.”

But Lenorowitz was ticked off by a 40-second, pre-recorded message that was left on his cellphone’s voicemail system this month.

“Hi, this is Maria with Mosquito Squad,” the message purportedly stated. “We sent you an email last week with details about our two supplemental tick control options. … Please call me back if you would like to discuss how we can go above and beyond to control ticks on your property.”

Lenorowitz claims that such unsolicited messages are violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, because telemarketers must get prior, express written consent to autodial or make prerecorded pitches to wireless numbers.

The voicemail message, according to the complaint, intruded on Lenorowitz’s seclusion, wasted his time, depleted the battery life of his cellphone and aggravated and annoyed him.

But a gadfly can collect only $500 per irritation, or $1,500 if the vexatious conduct was done knowingly and willfully.

The idea of the class action lawsuit is to band together many perturbed consumers and swat away collectively at the swarm of pesty phone calls.

Mosquito Squad sent its prerecorded messages to hundreds or thousands of consumers over the past four years, the complaint states, without getting prior consent.

Some industry groups claim that the proliferation of class action lawsuits is the nuisance and that the litigators should buzz off.

“Meritless class actions,” according to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, score jackpot settlements “where consumers receive minuscule amounts and lawyers walk away with huge fees.”