On April 30, 2019, in the case of Melito v. American Eagle Outfitters, Inc et al. Circuit Judges Hall and Lynch as well as District Judge Englemayer of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed Experian Marketing Solutions, Inc.’s (“Experian”) appeal and otherwise affirmed the judgment of the district court to settle the American Eagle Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) lawsuit for $14.5 million.
This TCPA lawsuit affected individuals who received text messages with advertisements of promotions and sales as well as coupons and information about new fashion lines. The class action lawsuit alleged that American Eagle violated the TCPA by failing to obtain written consent for accepting promotional information. A preliminary approval of the class settlement of $14.5 million and conditional certification of the class was granted by the district court. Almost 620,000 people would receive a class notice regarding the nature of the lawsuit and their potential recovery range of $142 and $285. During this process, two objections were received. First, Experian, the third-party marketing provider objected to class certification, alleging that Plaintiffs lacked Article III standing as they failed to show injury. Experian claimed that text messages from American Eagle were not as disruptive as phone calls and therefore shouldn’t be considered an injury to the plaintiff for the purposes of standing. Secondly, a class member claimed the settlement was unreasonable by awarding too little without appropriate notice. The district court overruled these objections by noting that the receipt of an unwanted text is itself the harm and was a sufficient injury-in-fact for the purposes of the TCPA. Additionally, they found that the settlement amount compared to the potential litigation risk was sufficient and that the class notice was adequate.
A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit reviewed and affirmed the district court’s findings allowing the case to continue to move forward. In its decision, the Court found that Plaintiffs did not allege a bare procedural violation, divorced from any concrete harm, rather Plaintiffs alleged the very injury the TCPA is intended to prevent. Because Plaintiffs demonstrated a harm directly identified by Congress and of the same character as harms remediable by traditional causes of action, Plaintiffs need not allege any additional harm beyond the one Congress has identified. Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP is pleased with the panel’s findings as we move closer to recovering damages for hundreds of thousands of consumers that were harassed by nuisance texts. If you or anyone you know has received promotional texts from a company without giving them consent, you may be entitled to recover up to $1,500 per text. Feel free to call us for a free phone consultation at (212) 300-0375 or visit our website for additional information.