A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Lightning, in which a fan claimed that the NHL team violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by flooding him with unwanted text messages.
Plaintiff Brian Hanley claimed that the team violated the TCPA by using a bait-and-switch tactic. Hanley was under the impression that he had entered a ticket contest for a future Lightning game by texting a short code number. Instead, he had inadvertently signed up for an advertising program where he received daily messages from the team. Since the Lightning did not get his express written consent, Hanley argues that this advertising program violated the TCPA. Hanley sought both an injunction and up to $1,500 per violation.
This case has been contentious since it was filed in March. In addition to disputes over the certification of the class, the Lightning even challenged the constitutionality of the TCPA. The team argued that it violates the First Amendment by prohibiting some automated calls and not others. The federal government filed a brief defending the statute, arguing that the TCPA is narrowly tailored to protect consumer privacy.
On October 17, 2019, the court administratively closed the case for 60 days so that the parties can file a comprehensive written settlement agreement and motion for preliminary approval. The details of the settlement remain unclear.
There are a number of other TCPA lawsuits filed against professional sports teams across the country. We will continue to follow and report on this situation.