SEATTLE, Jan. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — On January 24, 2013, King County Superior Court Judge Barbara Linde certified a class action lawsuit against Beacon Plumbing & Mechanical, Inc. for spam text messages. The company could be ordered to pay consumers more than $20 million in penalties as the case moves forward.
Beacon Plumbing is a company in the Seattle area best known for its slogan, “Stop Freakin’ Call Beacon.” The lawsuit contends that the company sent more than 43,000 illegal text messages to cell phones as part of an advertising campaign. According to papers in the case, on March 9, 2012, text messages were sent to 22,489 cellular telephones stating: “VALUED CUSTOMERS: Beacon Plumbing has gone mobile. To receive future discounts via text reply BEACON to opt in. 2endTxtSTOP.” It is alleged that a second text message was sent to 20,487 cell phones.
The court ruling means that the case against Beacon Plumbing will move forward as a class action. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act allows a consumer to collect damages of $500 per illegal text message. That amount can be increased to $1,500 per text message if the violation is considered to be “willful.” A Washington statute allows similar penalties.
Jacob Barr , one of the consumers who brought the case, was pleased with the ruling, stating, “I hope that rulings like this can keep unwanted text message spam out of cell phones.” He added, “I did not give Beacon Plumbing permission to send me text messages. After receiving a text message alert, who wants to pick up their phone only to find the equivalent of junk mail?”
This is the second Washington case on spam text messages to be certified recently as a large class action. On November 9, 2012, a federal court judge in Seattle certified a nationwide class action lawsuit against Papa John’s International, Inc. regarding promotional text messages. The potential damages in that case reportedly could exceed $250 million. The Seattle law firm Heyrich Kalish McGuigan PLLC represents the consumers in both the Beacon Plumbing and Papa John’s cases.
Donald W. Heyrich , attorney for consumers in the case, called the ruling “another wake up call to advertisers.” Heyrich stated, “Congress and the Washington Legislature enacted these laws to protect consumer privacy. Our firm is committed to protecting these important rights.” He added, “If you do not have advanced permission from your customers, do not send them text messages.”