Yahoo has been hit with a potential class-action lawsuit for allegedly sending SMS messages to users without their consent.
In court papers filed this week, San Diego resident Rafael David Sherman alleges that he received an unsolicited text from Yahoo informing him that he had a message from another user. Immediately afterward, he says he received that user's text.
In his lawsuit, Sherman claims he was unaware that Yahoo's instant messaging service would send him text messages. The two text messages allegedly were sent on Monday; Sherman filed suit in the Southern District of California on Tuesday, claiming that Yahoo violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. That law prohibits companies from using automated dialing systems to send text messages, unless consumers consent. The statute calls for damages of $500 per violation.
Yahoo isn't the only company sued for allegedly violating the consumer protection law. Microsoft and Google also have been hit with lawsuits in recent years, as have numerous retailers. The current crop of lawsuits dates to 2009, when the influential 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the telephone law applies to SMS messages.
A Jiffy Lube franchisee, Heartland Automotive Services, agreed last year to pay $47 million to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing it of spamming millions of consumers with text ads for discounts. U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Miller in the Southern District of California will decide after a Feb. 4 hearing whether to approve that settlement.
Another retailer facing suit, Papa John's, is currently appealing a recent decision allowing a class-action against the company to proceed. The pizza chain faces up to $250 million in liability in that case.