The National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers have been hit with a proposed class action that alleges the team has resorted to “deceptive and aggressive telemarketing” in an effort to boost game attendance. The two Florida residents behind the 29-page lawsuit claim Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. “lures” consumers into providing their phone numbers with the promise of “free gifts and/or coupons” only to be unwittingly enrolled in the team’s text message marketing campaigns with no way of opting out.
“Defendant caused thousands of unsolicited text messages to be sent to the cellular telephones of Plaintiffs and Class members, causing them injuries,” the suit states, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
One plaintiff, a Broward County resident, claims in the lawsuit that he texted “student” to the Panthers in October 2019 in order to gain free access to a rooftop lounge at one of the team’s games. While the plaintiff was provided free rooftop access, the Panthers automatically opted the man into the team’s text message marketing campaigns with no option to opt out or instructions on how to do so, the case says. The plaintiff alleges he received “close to 30” texts from the Florida Panthers over a two-month period.
The lawsuit, filed in Florida’s Southern District, asserts that the man did not provide the Panthers with express written consent to be sent automatically generated text messages at any time. As the suit tells it, the plaintiff “wasted at least 10 seconds” viewing each promotional text from the team and stopped what he was doing each time to look down at his phone. The case further claims the volume of texts from the defendant proved detrimental to the plaintiff’s phone’s memory and battery life.
The suit’s second plaintiff, a Miami-Dade County resident, alleges a similar scenario, one in which the woman claims to have received “several” texts from the team after providing the Panthers her number for “a limited purpose” without affirmatively opting into any marketing campaign.
According to the complaint, the Panthers sent the texts by way of Mobiniti, a platform with the capacity to generate and dial sequential phone numbers, as well as send auto-responses, without human intervention. The lawsuit charges that the process by which non-party Mobiniti retrieved proposed class members’ phone numbers, generated promotional content, and sent text messages was completely automated.
The lawsuit looks to cover a class of anyone in the United States who within the last four years received more than one text message from the Florida Panthers sent through the Mobiniti Platform for the purposes of advertising or promoting the team.
The Panthers are the second NHL franchise to be hit with a proposed TCPA class action in the last year. In March 2019, the Tampa Bay Lightning were named in anow-settled lawsuitthat alleged the team used bait-and-switch tactics to get consumers to sign up for promotional text messages.