Wal-Mart Wins Text-Spam Case


A judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Wal-Mart violated a consumer protection law by sending unwanted text messages to a customer who filled a prescription at the retailer's pharmacy.

U.S. District Court Judge C. Lynwood Smith in the Northern District of Alabama ruled last week that Wal-Mart didn't violate the law because the customer, Stephanie Pinkard, gave the pharmacy her cell phone number. Pinkard's disclosure of that information amounted to consent to receive texts, Smith ruled.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibits companies from using automatic telephone dialing systems to make calls to cell phones without consumers' consent. The statute calls for up to $1,500 in damages per violation.

Pinkard alleged in her court papers that she provided her cell phone number because a Wal-Mart employee said the store might need to contact her if there were problems with the prescription. Instead, Wal-Mart allegedly enrolled her in a text-message program that automatically sent messages to everyone who filled a prescription at the company's pharmacy.

Pinkard contended in a potential class-action lawsuit, filed in July, that those texts were unlawful. But Smith ruled that Pinkard's decision to disclose her phone number precludes her from suing.

"Once she voluntarily provided defendant with her telephone number (i.e., generally consented), it was her responsibility to explicitly state the limited scope of her consent," Smith wrote.

Pinkard's lawyer says he is still considering whether to appeal.

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