All debt collectors and others who call Minnesota telephone lines using a prerecorded or synthesized voice message with an auto dialer should know about the Minnesota Automatic Dialing-Announcing Devices statute, Minn. Stat. § 325E.26, et seq. (“ADAD Act”).
In short, the Minnesota statute provides that if you call a Minnesota telephone line – residential or cell – using an auto dialer, without prior express consent, and without a current business relationship, and you use a prerecorded voice, you could be liable for actual damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Under the ADAD Act, connecting to a Minnesota telephone line using an automatic dialing-announcing device (“ADAD”) is generally prohibited, unless:
(1) the subscriber has knowingly or voluntarily requested, consented to, permitted, or authorized receipt of the message; or (2) the message is immediately preceded by a live operator who obtains the subscriber’s consent before the message is delivered.
Minn. Stat. § 325E.27(a) (2016). The only relevant exception is for “messages to subscribers with whom the caller has a current business or personal relationship.” Minn. Stat. § 325E.27(b). Although the statute seems to have been aimed at curbing use of an ADAD by telemarketers, the statutory language is not limited and applies to all callers.
The result? A debt collector who dials a wrong number in Minnesota and uses an automatic dialing-announcing device without first obtaining the subscriber’s consent through a live operator may be liable under the statute.
Although litigation over the ADAD Act has been limited to the Minnesota Attorney General, the ADAD Act provides for a private right of action. See Minn. Stat. § 325E.31. Importantly, private citizens may only pursue private claims under the Minnesota ADAD Act through Minnesota’s Private Attorney General Statute, which limits actions to those that benefit the public. See Ly v. Nystrom, 615 N.W.2d 302, 314 (Minn. 2000).
If a plaintiff is successful in a lawsuit under the ADAD Act, he/she may “recover damages, together with costs and disbursements, including costs of investigation and reasonable attorney’s fees, and receive other equitable relief as determined by the court.” Minn. Stat. § 8.31(3)(a).