While Papa John’s is used to serving America with “better ingredients” and “better pizza,” the popular take-out and delivery chain recently got served with a $250 million class-action lawsuit.
Customers in Seattle have filed suit against that Kentucky based company for blasting them with illegal text messages.
The plaintiffs allege that Papa John's franchises sent customers a total of 500,000 unwanted messages in early 2010.
According to CNN, the spam texts offered deals for pizza, while some customers complained they were getting 15 or 16 texts in a row, even during the middle of the night.
"After I ordered from Papa John's, my telephone started beeping with text messages advertising pizza specials," Erin Chutich, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement obtained by CNN. "Papa John's never asked permission to send me text message advertisements."
The Atlantic Wire reports that Papa John’s, which is the third largest take-out and delivery pizza restaurant chain in the United States (behind Pizza Hut and Domino's Pizza), sent the text blasts through a mass text messaging service called OnTime4U, which is also a defendant in the case.
When Papa John's was first sued in April 2010, the franchises allegedly ended their involvement with OnTime4U's text program, according to CNN.
As a result, the pizza company reportedly informed its corporate stores and franchisees that sending unsolicited messages to cellphones "is most likely illegal."
While it has been two years since the first lawsuit, The Telephone Consumer Protection Act has barred companies from sending advertisements via text message without a consumer first opting into the service, since 1991
Caroline Oyler, Papa John's head of legal affairs, told CNN that Papa John's corporate text messaging program is not subject to the lawsuit, as the text were sent "by third-party vendors and a small number of franchisees."
The class-action lawsuit could lead to the largest damages awards ever recovered under the TCPA, Donald Heyrich, an attorney representing the class, told CNN.
The plaintiffs are seeking $500 per text, but they could be awarded up to $1,500 for each message if a jury rules 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 told the news outlet. "We hope this case keeps text message spam out of cellphones."
The nationwide class-action case was certified on Nov. 9 by U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour in Seattle. Papa John's plans to appeal the judge's ruling, Oyler said.
"We don't agree with it and will continue to aggressively defend it," she said. "We'll continue to litigate the case and defend the lawsuit and move to have it dismissed."