Papa John's Class Action Is About Accountability

posted: 11/21/2012

Earlier this month, a federal judge certified a class action brought against pizza chain Papa John's for illegal spam messaging of its customers. The lawsuit claims that Papa John's utilized collected data and phone numbers to text advertisements for the company, sometimes sending repeated texts to consumers. In total, the lawsuit claims that more than 500,000 texts were illegally sent to customers in 2010. According to the lawsuit, the texts violate the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which expressly prohibits the sending of advertisements through text messages unless a consumer specifically chooses to receive them. The texts were sent through a text messaging service called OnTime4U that specialized in text message blasts. OnTime4U is also a part of the class action.

The certification of a class is one of the initial steps required for a class action to proceed. In essence, the federal judge has ruled that the lawyers representing the consumers have demonstrated that the consumers receiving the text messages have all experienced a similar event and have been harmed in a similar way. Because of the common issues among each consumer, it makes sense for the lawyers to bring one lawsuit on behalf of the group. In making this ruling certifying the class, the judge made no ruling on the underlying merits of the consumer group's claims. Now, the class action will move towards discovering and evaluating whether Papa John's violated the law and what the consumers are entitled to as damages. The lawyers for the consumers have initially asked for $250 Million in damages.

While each individual consumer that was sent these text messages may only receive a small amount of money from a likely settlement (i.e. $500 or less), the importance of this lawsuit is much broader than the individual consumers involved. Perhaps the most tangible effect of this lawsuit will be to punish a company that violated the law. This in turn will operate as a deterrent to the company as well as other companies considering utilizing text message blasting and, on a much broader scale, violating consumer protection laws. Without civil legal accountability, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act would have very little teeth no ability to stop companies from sending unwanted text messages. In today's advertising marketplace, it's easy to see how such a scenario could quickly develop into an extreme annoyance and ultimately impair the functionality and enjoyment of consumer phones (not to mention the possible charges incurred). While class action lawsuits like this one are meant to protect a specific group of consumers, the intangible benefits and protection provided by this lawsuit extend to all consumers. The ability of lawyers and groups of people to band together and seek significant damages from a company for violations of the law that may not seem extreme individually, is an important tool to hold companies accountable to consumers when companies take advantage. So, the next time you get a check for $14 in the mail from a class action settlement or read an article about a class action aimed at something that doesn't seem particularly important, remember that the class action process is about something bigger than any individual consumer or any individual class action lawsuit. It is about accountability and that accountability protects our way of life as consumers.

Topics: Consumer Class Action, Injury Class Action, Class Action Attorney Pensacola, Class Action Lawyer, Consumer Protection