Unsolicited Text Messages Land Papa Johns in an Extra-Large Class Action Mess
Papa Johns CEO John Schnatter has already been criticized for his stance on Obamacare. Now, however, the pizza chain faces a tougher form of criticism – a class action suit for unsolicited text messaging former customers with coupons and specials.
Plaintiffs estimate the chain could have to pay up to $250 million in personal damages for its unwanted barrage of texts. That’s a lot of extra pepperoni.
The plaintiffs in the suit contend that, in 2010, Papa Johns sent a total of 500,000 text messages to customers, although they had not signed up on a mailing list. The class action suit was filed in February 2012, in Seattle.
“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. “Papa John’s never asked permission to send me text message advertisements.” The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 bars companies from sending advertisements via text message without a consumer first opting into the service.
The lawsuit was granted class action status in early November by a US District Court Judge in Seattle. Participants seek $500 per text message, adding up to the hefty $250 million price tag.
The lawsuit could result in “one of the largest damages awards ever recovered under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act,” according to plaintiffs’ lawyers.
Papa Johns Might Not Face Hefty Class Action Consequences
The pizza chain, however, is quick to shift the blame to some of their franchises, who acted without the company as a whole giving the go-ahead. These franchises contracted a text message service called OnTime4U, which is another defendant in the class action. Papa Johns was first sued for too many texts in April of 2010, so it notified its franchises that unsolicited texting “is most likely illegal.”
Because the chain as a whole did not condone the actions of individual franchises, Papa Johns could be off the hook for the class action suit. Franchises in the Northwestern United States might hold sole responsibility for their decision to contract OnTime4U.
However, Papa Johns did promote the practices of OnTime4U in 2009 at its Operators Summit conference. Although the pizza chain did disavow the group later, that piece of the pie could be the piece that ends up stuck in the chain’s gullet.
The judge’s order to approve the class action suit explained that there was evidence that Papa John’s “had at least a hand” in the franchisees’ decisions to sign on with the marketing firm to send text messages to their customers.
Consumer Protection Attorneys for Regional and National Class Actions with the Strom Law Firm
Founded in 1996 by former United States Attorney and assistant solicitor, Pete Strom, the Strom Law Firm, LLC aggressively pursues class action cases. The class action lawyers at the Strom Law Firm enjoy a distinct statewide and national reputation for excellence in the area of consumer protection litigation and class action lawsuits.
Consumer protection actions, or class actions, can stem from an almost unlimited variety of misconduct or defective products.If you suffered because of the misconduct of a corporation, you might qualify for compensation. Contact the class action attorneys at the Strom Law Firm. We offer free, confidential consultations, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.