Papa John’s, one of the largest pizza chains in the United States, is facing a $250 million dollar class-action lawsuit. The Papa John’s lawsuit alleges that the pizza maker bombarded customers with illegal text messages. The Papa John’s lawsuit alleges that customers received more than 500,000 unwanted messages in early 2010. Customers were complaining that the text messages, offering pizza deals, would come 15-20 times a day and even in the middle of the night when they were trying to sleep.
Erin Chutich, one of the plaintiffs in the Papa John’s Lawsuit, said in a statement to CBS 6 in Virginia:
“After I ordered from Papa John’s, my telephone started beeping with text messages advertising pizza specials. Papa John’s never asked permission to send me text message advertisements.”
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 makes it illegal to send a text message advertisement to someone who has not “opted in” to to the service.
The text blasts were sent by the texting company OnTime4U. They have also been named as a defendant in the case. The Papa John’s Lawsuit, first filed in 2010, caused the various Papa John’s franchises to stop using the service because Papa John’s corporate sent out a message telling them that sending unwanted text messages “is most likely illegal.”
Papa John’s legal department is saying that the text messaging program is not subject to legal sanction because the texts were sent “by third-party vendors and a small number of franchisees.”
The Papa John’s lawsuit is the largest ever filed under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Donald Heyrich, who is representing the class, said that the plaintiffs are asking for $500 for each text, but, if the jury finds out Papa John’s willfully broke the law, they can increase the payout up to $1,500 per text.
Heyrich told reporters:
“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. We hope this case keeps text message spam out of cellphones.”
Caroline Oyler, the head of Papa John’s legal affairs, said there is “no basis” for the plaintiff’s estimate of $250 million.
“We don’t agree with it and will continue to aggressively defend it. We’ll continue to litigate the case and defend the lawsuit and move to have it dismissed.”