Papa John’s LLC and Papa John’s franchisees are being sued for sending unwanted spam texts. The lawsuit alleges 500,000 texts were blasted to phone numbers that hadn’t first opted in. The claim, based on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), is for $500 per text message. That works out to a whopping $250 million in damages. We can anticipate that the end result will be huge fees for the plaintiff’s attorneys and a bunch of free pizza coupons for the victims.
(Aside: We believe that the TCPA included fines of $500 and $1500 for violations so that individuals could be compensated fairly in court or so they could reach quick settlements with violators. When applying these fines to class actions, the punishment hardly fits the offense.)
The law has been slow to catch up with text messaging, but we are seeing cases being prosecuted using both the TCPA and the CAN-SPAM Act. With each case, the rules around group text messaging are becoming clearer. Clearly, the law is catching up with guidelines put in place by the cellular carriers themselves and the Mobile Marketing Association.
The simple way to avoid lawsuits is to do what is the right thing to do anyway – require an opt-in from every phone number before sending mass text messages. You can call this policy common sense, the golden rule, or just plain good business. Either way, it would have saved Papa John’s a lot attorney’s fees and free pizza coupons.