The famed pizza chain stands accused of blasting customers with illegal text messages. Plaintiffs have come together to say the Papa John’s franchise sent them up to 500,000 unwanted text messages in 2010. They claim the spam texts offered pizza deals and random coupons.
“After I ordered from Papa John’s, my telephone started beeping with text messages advertising pizza specials,” Erin Chutich, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “Papa John’s never asked permission to send me text message advertisements.”
Some customers even claim that they sometimes received 15-16 messages in a row. Often times in the middle of the night. Their mass text service, OnTime4U, also stands as a defendant in the case. Papa John’s cut ties with the company in 2010 when this case was first brought to the courts.
Caroline Oyler, Papa John’s head of legal affairs, said that Papa John’s corporate text messaging program is not subject to the lawsuit, as the text were sent “by third-party vendors and a small number of franchisees.”
The class-action lawsuit could lead to the largest damages awards ever recovered under the TCPA, according to Donald Heyrich, an attorney representing the class. The plaintiffs are seeking $500 per text, but they could be awarded up to $1,500 for each message if a jury rules that Papa John’s willfully broke the law.
“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,” Heyrich said. “We hope this case keeps text message spam out of cellphones.” Oyer, however, said that Papa John’s sees “no basis” for the plaintiff’s estimate of $250 million.