The Georgia Court of Appeals has tossed a $459 million junk fax verdict on Wednesday, finding that the trial judge erred in concluding that the defendant sent 306,000 unsolicited fax advertisements because plaintiffs did not prove the faxes had been received.
Wow, $459 million for faxes? Juries are crazy. Well, actually, this was a bench trial but let’s not ruin the tort reformers narrative. I’m sure all the tort reform folks will pretend that (1) a jury decided this, (2) this was a tort action, and (3) there is a chance this is a collectible verdict against a siding, window, and gutter installation company that was in business between 2002 to 2004.
But, look, I think these junk faxes lawsuits are a little ridiculous myself. The idea of plaintiffs – or frankly their lawyers – getting money because they got a junk fax just seems ridiculous to me. I realize there is an economic burden associated with junk faxes and these claims might not be as petty in the macro picture as their are in the micro-picture. But on some human level, it is a fax, it is a cold call, let’s not get so worked up about nothing.
You can read the full opinion here.
How Junk Fax Lawsuits Work
Junk fax lawsuits refer to legal actions taken against businesses or individuals who send unsolicited fax advertisements, also known as junk faxes, without the prior consent of the recipient. Junk faxes have been a nuisance to businesses and individuals for decades, and in 1991, the U.S. Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to address the issue.
The TCPA sets strict rules for sending fax advertisements and requires that businesses obtain prior written consent from the recipient before sending any promotional materials via fax. If a recipient receives a junk fax and believes that the sender violated the TCPA, they have the right to file a lawsuit against the sender and seek damages.
Junk fax lawsuits are considered class action lawsuits, which means that they can be brought by a group of individuals who have all received the same junk fax. This type of lawsuit is often pursued to recover damages incurred by a large group of individuals who received the same unsolicited fax. The damages that can be recovered in a junk fax lawsuit may include the cost of the paper and ink used to print the fax, as well as any time and resources that the recipient had to spend dealing with the junk fax.
In order to file a junk fax lawsuit, the recipient must be able to prove that the sender of the junk fax violated the TCPA. This includes providing evidence that the sender did not have prior written consent from the recipient to send the fax, and that the recipient incurred damages as a result of the unsolicited fax. In many cases, the recipient will need to provide proof of the time, date, and contents of the junk fax in order to prove their case.
Once a junk fax lawsuit is filed, the process of litigating the case can be lengthy and complex. It often involves gathering evidence, conducting depositions, and preparing for trial. During this time, the recipient and the sender may engage in settlement negotiations in an attempt to resolve the matter outside of court. If a settlement is reached, the recipient may receive compensation for their damages, and the sender will agree to cease sending any further unsolicited faxes.
If the case goes to trial, the recipient must prove that the sender violated the TCPA and that they incurred damages as a result. If the recipient is successful, the court may award damages, including statutory damages of up to $500 per violation. In some cases, the court may also award additional damages for any harm suffered by the recipient as a result of the junk fax.
In recent years, the number of junk fax lawsuits has increased dramatically. This is due in part to the rise of technology and the ease with which unsolicited fax advertisements can be sent. As a result, businesses and individuals must be diligent in obtaining prior written consent before sending any promotional materials via fax. Failing to do so can result in significant legal and financial consequences.
For businesses, it is important to have a clear understanding of the TCPA and to take steps to ensure compliance with the law. This may include obtaining written consent from all recipients before sending any promotional materials via fax, as well as having a clear process in place for responding to any complaints or legal actions related to junk faxes.