On April 7, 2020, the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida approved a $2.25 million settlement to end a class action lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment LLC (TBSE) for texts allegedly sent to Tampa Bay Lightning fans in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The settlement includes an award of over $800,000 in attorney fees and costs, and a service award for class representative Bryan Hanley.
The claim was filed in March of 2019 after Hanley submitted a text in response an advertisement for a chance to win free hockey tickets, a Tampa Bay Lightning Fan Pack and an exclusive seat visit from the Lightning’s team mascot. The plaintiff immediately began receiving numerous advertising and marketing texts, communications that Hanley alleged violated the TCPA because he and others who entered the contest, never gave express written consent to receive them. Hanley ultimately accused the TBSE of using “bait and switch” tactics to lure fans into an unwanted marketing campaign. The defendants, in turn, vigorously defended their ads, going as far as questioning the constitutionality of the TCPA – a move that prompted the US Department of Justice to intervene by filing a brief to defend the constitutionality of the TCPA. The settlement comes before the court was able to deliver an opinion on the statute’s constitutionality.
According to the plaintiff’s motion for settlement, the funds will be used to pay approximately 181,000 class members while the TBSE continues to deny that it committed any wrongdoing. The court has not yet issued a written order for this settlement.