Posted by Chris Alarie on Thu, 03/04/2021 - 14:11
Babe Ruth is quoted as having said, "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." This may be good advice for a baseball player but it is bad advice for telemarketers who have to worry about the potentially enormous penalties associated with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
A promotional campaign by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team to increase fan engagement has prompted a TCPA class action against the league and the team. In a complaint—Lee v. MLB Advanced Media, L.P. et al.—filed in a New York District Court, the plaintiff alleges that the San Francisco Giants sent her text messages without proper consent, in violation of the TCPA.
The complaint alleges that the texts were sent between May 2019 and October 2020 through the use of shortcode phone numbers that had been purchased by MLB. The complaint also alleges that these sorts of text message campaigns are encouraged and approved by MLB Advanced Media. The plaintiff alleges that the texts were sent without direct human intervention, meaning that they violate the TCPA’s prohibitions against the use of automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS).
The complaint includes some interesting details, including accusing the league and team of being “[d]esperate to help drive the fan engagement that the MLB club owners so critically rely on, and to combat nosediving ratings and declining fan engagement.” The complaint also alleges that some of the offending texts encouraged the recipients to register to vote.
This is not the first time that a major professional sports team has been sued for TCPA violations. While MLB is a multibillion-dollar enterprise, it is not immune from potential TCPA liability.