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Papa John's Text Message Spam Leads to Class-Action Suit

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By Andrew Lu on November 15, 2012 11:21 AM

Papa John's is being sued for $250 million by a class of plaintiffs citing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The Papa John's text-message lawsuit could lead to the largest damage award ever under the TCPA, CNN Money reports.

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs claim they called their local Papa John's to order pizza, and soon received a barrage of unsolicited text-message spam. Some customers claim to have received 15 or 16 messages in a row, many in the middle of the night, according to CNN.

If the text messages indeed violated the law, Papa John's could face a penalty of $500 per message sent. But if a willful violation is found, the penalty could rise to $1,500 for each text message.

About 500,000 spam texts were allegedly sent, the lawsuit claims.

Congress passed the TCPA in 1991 in response to consumer complaints about increased telemarketing calls and automated pre-recorded messages. Initially, the law required telemarketers to provide certain information about themselves to consumers, and to not call consumers between certain hours.

However, with the advent of cell phones, the law was eventually broadened to include cell phones and text messaging. Now the TCPA prohibits text messages sent to a mobile phone using an autodialer, along with texts that are sent without the recipient's prior consent. This ban applies even if an individual has not placed his mobile number on a Do-Not-Call list, according to the FCC.

Along with the TCPA, the CAN-SPAM Act also bars unwanted email and text messages sent to mobile phones if they are "commercial messages."

With the class already certified against Papa John's and a texting service called OnTime4U (which franchise owners allegedly hired to execute the text-message campaign), consumer protection attorneys may want to pay close attention to this case. With record damages on the line, more lawyers and plaintiffs may soon be turning to laws like TCPA and CAN-SPAM to put an end to unsolicited marketing campaigns.

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