On March 12, 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed against Blimpie International, Inc. (“Blimpie”) and other entities, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Specifically, the complaint alleges that Blimpie violated the TCPA by sending unsolicited “junk faxes” to businesses and individuals throughout the country. The plaintiff seeks to certify a class of plaintiffs composed of “[a]ny owner or lessee of a fax machine that was sent one or more faxes in the last four years advertising Blimpie goods or services.”
TCPA Class Action Allegations against Blimpie
According to the complaint, a Blimpie franchisee used a fax blasting company by the name of Faxertise, Inc. (“Faxertise”) to send fax advertisements promoting lunch specials “at the West New York Blimpie.” The complaint details that Faxertise advertised that it can be hired to send between 500 and 800 client fax advertisements per day, for a cost of $70 per week. The named plaintiff alleges that between February 19, 2015 and March 12, 2015, he received nine separate unsolicited Blimpie fax advertisements, containing the Blimpie trademark and logo. The fax advertisements contained opt-out notices with a telephone number registered to Faxertise. The complaint seeks nationwide class certification, and unspecified damages for both TCPA and state law conversion violations.
Blimpie Protected by Taco Bell TCPA Decision?
Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the franchisor Taco Bell Corp. (“Taco Bell”) cannot be held liable for alleged TCPA violations by a franchisee. The Ninth Circuit affirmed a dismissal of a TCPA class action against Taco Bell because, among other reasons, the plaintiff did not “present any evidence . . . demonstrating that Taco Bell [Corp.] controlled the actions of [the franchisees] with respect to the campaign.” The class plaintiffs in the Blimpie action will face a similar hurtle in their attempt to hold Blimpie vicariously liable for the alleged junk fax campaign of a New Jersey State Blimpie franchisee.
As we have previously blogged, both federal and state regulators have intensified their enforcement of the TCPA. Additionally, class action litigation concerning the TCPA has increased in recent years. As such, it is critical that businesses and marketers alike understand all of the telemarketing restrictions contained within the TCPA, or risk crippling financial penalties.