Wisconsin Supreme Court
Consumer Protection – cramming — voluntary payment doctrine
The voluntary payment doctrine is not a defense to a claim of illegal cramming under sec. 100.207.
“The statute is meant to deter the practice of cramming by holding crammers responsible for the illegal practice in court. However, application of the common law defense would reduce the likelihood that crammers would face any consequence at all for violating the statute. Rather than being deterred by the statute’s remedial scheme, telecommunications companies might be encouraged to produce more unauthorized charges, knowing that customers who do not initially notice deceptive charges will face high hurdles to recovering those payments in a court action. Applying the voluntary payment doctrine to bar many private rights of action could encourage cramming, the mischief the legislature sought to suppress, by eliminating ‘a necessary backup to the state’s enforcement powers.’ See Shands, 115 Wis. 2d at 358-59.”
Reversed and Remanded.
Attorneys: For Appellant: Dehler, Douglas P., Milwaukee; Miller, James E., Chester, CT; Shah, James C., Media, PA; For Respondent: Friebert, Robert H., Milwaukee; Meuler, Christopher M., Milwaukee; Harley, Gregory F., Atlanta, GA