Papa John’s faces lawsuits over illegal text messages

Jennifer White Contributor
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Pizza giant Papa John’s is facing a $250 million class-action lawsuit for allegedly spamming customers with illegal text message in 2010.

Plaintiffs say that they were blasted with a total of 500,000 unwanted messages offering pizza specials. Recipients say that they would receive series of messages in the middle of the night at times, according to Donald Heyrich, an attorney representing the class.

“After I ordered from Papa John’s, my telephone started beeping with text messages advertising pizza specials,” Erin Chutich, one of the plaintiffs, said according to CNN, “Papa John’s never asked permission to send me text message advertisements.”

The nationwide class-action Papa John’s case was certified on Nov. 9 by U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour. Papa John’s plans to appeal the judge’s ruling. Plaintiffs are seeking $500 per unsolicited text, but they could end up with $1,500 for each message if a jury decides that Papa John’s willfully broke the law.

The offending messages were sent through OnTime4U, a messaging service which is a defendant in the Papa John’s case. When Papa John’s was initially sued in April 2010, the franchise ceased their relationship with OnTime4U’s text program, after the pizza company informed its corporate stores and franchisees that sending unsolicited messages to cellphones “is most likely illegal.” The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 makes it illegal for companies to send advertisement via text message without a consumer first opting into the service.

Papa John’s has made it to the news recently for its position against Obamacare. John Schnatter, founder and CEO of the company, who supported Romney, says that the health care bill will cost Papa John’s between $5 million to $8 million annually.

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Jennifer White