Two class action lawsuits against an advertising technology company and a healthcare service provider reflect growing consumer agitation for receiving unwanted cell phone calls and texts.
The defendants in the cases are Unique Healthcare Systems doing business as “AFC Urgent Care Pinellas Park” and Digital Media Solutions based in Clearwater. Among other issues is violations of the TCPA Act of 1991 (the Telephone Consumer Protection Act).
Using an automatic telephone dialing system to contact cell phone users who have not consented to calls or texts, who are dialed for other than emergency purposes, is legally taboo.
According to the lawsuit against AFC Urgent Care of Pinellas Park, advertisements for “free COVID-19 testing” ads sent by text were misleading. It states the company also failed to maintain an effective “Do Not Call” list that would prevent cell phone users from receiving further text messages after choosing to “opt out.”
For many consumers, payment of $130.00 was allegedly required.
However, the ads resulting in a legal complaint indicate office visits still apply, which means charges still exist. The Free Press attempted to reach Fort Lauderdale attorney Manuel S. Hiraldo regarding advertisements’ legal integrity, but he could not be reached. Hiraldo filed both class action lawsuits in the Pinellas County courts.
Digital Media Solutions is accused of using “short codes” through computer processing to tap into consumers’ cell phones, coupling use of an ATDS system (automatic telephone dialing system) and a messaging platform, for text message delivery to thousands of cell phone users without any human involvement.
Plaintiff Graham Hooper claims he never consented to receive the company’s lending service advertisements. He also expressed his frustration with the annoyance of such unwanted text messages and indicated they disrupted his life.
Numerous attempts were made to contact Digital Media Solutions’ Co-founder Joe Marinucci and Chief Marketing Officer, Kathy Bryant. What ensued was a series of automated voice messages and one unhelpful contact who refused to provide assistance. Attempts to reach Ozzy Ozgun, owner of AFC Urgent Care Pinellas Park were also made.
Both class action suits are pursuing awards of $500 for each cell phone user affected by the TCPA violations. Cell phone users who were contacted after requesting placement on the “Do Not Call” list would receive $1,500 each. The companies would also be restricted to contacting only cell phone users giving prior consent.