Owner of Papa John’s, John Schnatter, may have more to worry about than having to shell out 14 cents per pizza if “Obamacare” passes after it has been learned the company is being hit with a $250 million class-action suit.
Late last week a U.S. District Court judge in Seattle granted the lawsuit a class-action status after several customers sought to recover $500 for each of 500,000 illegally sent promotional texts in 2010.
According to a statement from the Heyrich Kalish McGuigan law firm, Papa John’s spammed customers with the unwanted promotional texts without their permission.
The $250 million lawsuit could result in “one of the largest damages awards ever recovered under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act,” according to plaintiffs’ lawyers.
“This should be a wake-up call to advertisers,” said attorney Donald W. Heyrich in a statement. “Consumers do not want spam on their cellphones. If you do not have permission from your customers, do not send them text messages. It’s as simple as that.”
However, according to the complaint, some of the chain’s franchisees used the marketing company OnTime4U to send promotional messages about pizza deals to a database of customers who had previously ordered from Papa John’s.
“After I ordered from Papa John’s, my telephone started beeping with text messages advertising pizza specials,” Erin Chutich, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement. “Papa John’s never asked permission to send me text message advertisements. Hopefully, this will be an important victory for consumers. Our lawsuit is about keeping spam from spreading from our email to our cell phones.”
Papa John’s has said it will appeal the judge’s decision to certify the lawsuit.
“We don’t agree with it and will continue to aggressively defend it,” said Caroline Oyler, Papa John’s head of legal affairs. “We’ll continue to litigate the case and defend the lawsuit and move to have it dismissed.”
Since the re-election of President Obama, the Papa John’s founder has claimed that the costs that could be imposed on him due to “Obamacare” would likely result in the company cutting hours and some employees losing their jobs, due to it costing him an average of 14 cents a pizza to cover.