A federal judge this week certified a $250 million class-action lawsuit against Papa John's pizza that alleges the company spammed some customers with over 500,000 text messages. The mass texting was conducted by several of the chain's franchises as a means of advertising pizza specials and distributing discount offers, but plaintiffs claim Papa John's never obtained their permission to make contact via SMS — a requirement under federal law. Further, the barrage of texts often came in the middle of the night, according to the complaint, with some customers hit with dozens of consecutive messages. SMS spam has unfortunately become a growing annoyance in recent years, leading major US carriers to team up in hopes of cutting back on unwelcome messages.
The implicated Papa John's franchises recruited OneTime4U (a mass SMS service) for the task, with that company accordingly named as a defendant. The first lawsuits regarding the unlawful texting were filed in 2010: Papa John's immediately ordered all franchisees to cease any mass texting, concluding the practice was "most likely illegal." Unfortunately the damage had already been done and the potential financial repercussions Papa John's now faces are significant. Plaintiffs could receive up to $1,500 for each spam text should a jury decide the pizza stores purposefully broke the law. That would make for one of the largest damage sums ever recovered under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. Papa John's intends to continue battling the case in hopes of having it dismissed altogether.