Pizza chain Papa John’s is facing a $250 million class-action lawsuit for blasting customers with spamming text messages, reports CNN.
The plaintiffs say Papa John’s franchises sent their customers nearly 500,000 illegal messages in early 2010.
The spam texts offered deals to the customers for pizza, but some complained they were receiving 15 or 16 texts in a row, some of them in the middle of the night, court documents said.
“After I ordered from Papa John’s, my telephone started beeping with text messages advertising pizza specials,” Erin Chutich, a plaintiff on the class-action lawsuit, said in a statement. “Papa John’s never asked permission to send me text message advertisements.”
Papa John’s used the mass text messaging service, OnTime4U, which also is a defendant in the case.
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The pizza chain was first sued for the illegal texts in 2010 and told their franchises and corporate restaurants that sending the texts “is most likely illegal,” CNN wrote.
Companies are not allowed to send advertisements via text message unless the customer requests the service, under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Caroline Oyler, Papa John’s head of legal affairs, said the corporate text messaging program should not be sued because the messages were sent “by third-party vendors and a small number of franchisees,” she told CNN.
If the plaintiffs are awarded the $250 million, it could be the largest damage award ever recovered under the TCPA, according to the attorney reporesenting the class, Donald Heyrich.
The plaintiffs are asking for $500 per text, but could get $1,500 a text if the jury finds that Papa John’s willfully broke the law.
“We have noticed text message spam is increasing in part because advertisers see it as a great way to get their material directly into the hands of customers,” Heyrich said to CNN. “We hope this case keeps text message spam out of cellphones.”
But Oyer was defiant.
“We don’t agree with it and will continue to aggressively defend it,” she told CNN. “We’ll continue to litigate the case and defend the lawsuit and move to have it dismissed.”