This could be a sign of things to come for radio stations that have used text messaging to contact their “loyal listeners” without getting the proper permission or understanding the rules. Earlier this week we told you about the recent class action suit iHeart settled over unwanted texts sent to listeners. Now we get news of an individual, Elaine Bonin, who has filed a lawsuit against WSCR for allegedly violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. You may want to keep this column by broadcast attorney John Garziglia handy. Here are the details from the WSCR lawsuit.
The law prohibits the use of autodialers to make any call, including sending a test message, to a wireless number, unless its an emergency or the owner of the phone gives permission. In Bonin’s case she owned a TracFone which is a prepaid wireless phone. She has to purchase minutes that are loaded onto her phone in advance of calls or texts. When she sends or receives texts, minutes are deducted. In January Bonin says she received a message from The Score about an NFL game between The Bears and The Lions. She says the station then sent several more messages that day and for days after, without ever receiving her permission. Each message costs her 0.3 minutes of time used.
Bonin is asking up to $1,500 in damages for each call that she claims violated the statute. This filing by Bonin and her attorneys states it is a “Class Action Complaint,” and the unknown number of listeners to the station affected by this is unknown but could be in the hundreds or thousands. The filing asks for $500 in damages for each and every call made by the station and attorney’s fees.