Case Studies: The Real World Impact of Class Actions for Technical Violations of Consumer Protection Statutes


Mama Mia, a Florida restaurant, accepts credit cards as payment for meals. A customer provides his credit card to pay for his meal and receives a receipt from the restaurant. The receipt displays the customer’s credit card number and expiration date. A month later the customer files a class action against the restaurant for violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) seeking statutory but not actual damages for the class of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000. A month later, Mama Mia corrects its credit card receipts and truncates the credit card number on the receipt in compliance with FACTA. There is no claim that plaintiff or any other member of the proposed class suffered any actual damages because the receipts Mama Mia provided customers failed to comply with FACTA. Based on the proposed class, however, Mama Mia, a small business with about $40,000 in net assets, faces statutory damages of between $4,600,000 and $46,000,000.

Dr. David Jansen is a new chiropractor trying to start his business. To attract patients he purchases a list of local fax numbers from a marketing company. He emails electronic faxes to the numbers on the list informing the recipients of his office and offering a free chiropractic massage for new patients. The doctor stops sending the unsolicited faxes after three months. Two years later, a recipient files a class action against the doctor for sending unsolicited faxes in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). The recipient demands more than $3,500,000 in statutory damages for the class for approximately 7,000 unsolicited faxes that were sent by the doctor. There is no claim that plaintiff or any other recipient suffered any harm from receiving the unsolicited faxes. No recipient other than the plaintiff filed a complaint against the doctor.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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