Papa John’s, the multi-chain pizza company, is facing a huge $250 million lawsuit for sending customers text messages.  The company is accused of sending 500,000 unwanted texts back in 2010 as spam.  They were deals for pizza, but some customers got as many as 15 or 16 in a day.  Some were even sent in the middle of the night.

A $250 Million Lawsuit for Papa Johns

The problem is that the company never asked permission for these messages, making them illegal.  They were sent through a service, OnTime4U, who is also a defendant for the lawsuit.  Papa Johns’ was first sued back in April of 2010 at which time they supposedly ended their relationship with the service.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 prevents companies like Papa Johns from sending ads in text messages unless the consumer opts into the service.  However, the company says it is not responsible for the spam since it was sent by a third-party service and a few franchisees.  They plan to fight the suit since they have done nothing wrong and were not aware of the messages that were sent to customers.

What is at stake for the company is between $500 and $1500 per illegal text sent.  The number will depend if it is determined that Papa Johns broke the law wilfully and knowingly.

Text messages are becoming a popular way to send spam since it gets it right to the customer faster than any other method, including email.  However, a guilty verdict and a high payout with Papa Johns could send a strong message to other companies attempting to do the same thing.  Phone carriers are working to reduce the number of spam texts that get sent to customers.

Papa Johns shares fell almost 2% since the judge ruled that the plaintiffs could come together for the suit.

[Image via gizmodo]