Class representatives in litigation against Papa John’s International have filed an unopposed motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement in a case involving claims that the company’s franchisees sent unlawful commercial text messages through OnTime4U to some 220,000 individuals without their express consent. Agne v. Papa John’s Int’l, Inc., No. 10-1139 (U.S. Dist. Ct., W.D. Wash. at Seattle, filed May 17, 2013). Details about the court’s grant of class certification appear in Issue 463 of this Update.
Under the proposed agreement, class members who are provided notice will automatically receive a merchandise certificate for a free Papa John’s pizza—a $13 retail value with a collective value of $2.86 million. Class members who submit claims and whose phone numbers are verified will also receive $50 each at an aggregate value of $11 million. Attorney’s fees and costs will add $2.45 million to the settlement fund, and $25,000 in incentives for the named plaintiffs will bring the settlement’s total value to more than $16.5 million.
The defendants’ notice of appeal on class certification to the Ninth Circuit has been stayed pending approval of the settlement agreement which was the product of mediation sessions before two retired judges. To support the incentive claim for one of the named plaintiffs, the motion reports that she actively participated in the litigation at some personal cost and also received ex parte letters sent to her undisclosed home address “in which the OnTime4U defendant made threats such as having collection agencies go after her personally for in excess of $150,000 in legal fees.” Finding this conduct “improper and intolerable,” the court apparently “issued both a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to enjoin” this conduct.