Papa John’s agreed to settle its Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuit last week. The pizza chain had been facing the largest fine ever for violations of the TCPA in history, but settled with the plaintiffs on Friday.
The complaint alleged that the pizza chain sent a total of 500,000 unwanted text marketing messages without obtaining consent first, as required by the TCPA. The law allows for penalties up to $1,500 per unsolicited text message if a defendant is found to have willfully broken the law.
Papa John’s argued consumers gave consent in providing their mobile numbers to the company when ordering a pizza and, as a franchisor, cannot be held liable for marketing privacy violations of its franchisees or third-party marketing vendors they use.
The courts, the FTC and the FCC have been clear that corporations are responsible for marketing privacy violations committed by independent agents or third-party vendors. They have also made clear that businesses can only send marketing text messages to consumers who have expressly opted in to receive those messages, not simply provided their cell phone number to a business for some other reason.
Papa John’s will pay a $16.5 million penalty in this settlement.