COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM ) – It could be the ultimate David and Goliath story: a Collin County man, sick of unwanted phone calls, fought back against a billion-dollar company. Now he’s won, and says anyone can do it.
Thomas Buchanan was supposed to be home resting on doctor’s orders. Instead he was stressing over the telemarketers that kept calling. After days of ringing from dozens of telemarketers and robocalls, he’d had enough. “I said ‘this has to stop.’ ” So Buchanan pulled out his laptop and hatched a plan.”I started with a spreadsheet,” Buchanan told The Ones For Justice. “And I started logging each of the calls.”
He was on the federal “do not call” registry, so he knew the companies calling him were violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA. He built a database of phone numbers, times and dates then used the information to file a small claims lawsuit against a doors and windows company. Buchanan says the company offered to settle out of court for $3,500. He was preparing more cases against more companies when he realized one case was too big for small claims court.
Buchanan had logged 16 unwanted phone calls from Sirius XM satellite radio company. His claim for damages exceeded $50,000, so he searched for a law firm to take on the case. It took him a year to find one that he felt would take the case seriously. Buchanan says his legal team at Hughes Ellzey found records that showed Sirius had made millions of similar calls. “I said ‘there are enough families in enough homes getting these phone calls that this needs to be a nationwide class action lawsuit’… and that’s how it was filed.”
That was in March of 2017. Buchanan spent the next two years as the lead plaintiff in a legal fight that grew to include several law firms and about 14 million customers. Last summer, Sirius agreed to settle the suit without admitting wrongdoing. A federal judge in Dallas is expected to sign off on the $32 million agreement tomorrow.
“Listen – do you hear this?” asked Buchanan, a sly smile on his face. “That’s the sound of silence. My phone is not ringing.” While it’s much more quiet at the Buchanan home these days, he’s now excited when a telemarketer dials his number. “Please call me! Because I will hunt you down, I will track you down, and you will be prosecuted.”
He’s also got a message for everyone on the receiving end of those unwanted calls. “Don’t expect the government to do it, don’t expect your law enforcement to do it. Take ownership of this. You can prosecute these folks.”