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Agency-relationship disclaimer didn’t work; DISH Network hit with $280 million penalty for telemarketing sins

In class this week we talked about the potential dangers of appointing a contracting party as your “agent.” Here’s a Seventh Circuit opinion issued yesterday: “[A] district judge concluded that DISH Network and its agents committed more than 65 million violations of telemarketing statutes and regulations. The penalty: $280 million.” United States v. DISH Network LLC, No. 09-3073, slip op. at 1 (7th Cir. Mar. 26, 2020) (cleaned up; emphasis added). 

The court noted: “The contract [between DISH and its representatives] asserts that it does not create an agency relation, but parties cannot by ukase negate agency if the relation the contract creates is substantively one of agency.” Id.,, slip op. at 5 (italics in original, bold-facing added).

Judgment affirmed, mostly. (The damages award was vacated and remanded for reconsideration for unrelated reasons.)