“Company Hit With $459 Million Judgment Over ‘Junk Fax’ Transmissions”

The home-improvement company in question is defunct, but lawyers say they’ll try to collect the $1,500-per-recipient statutory fine, or part of it, from its commercial liability insurer. [Fulton County Daily Report] My take on entrepreneurial junk fax litigation is here.


  • Can’t help but wonder if the CGL policy in place would cover statutory fines. It’s not “bodily injury” or “property damage” so a typical CG 00 01 is unlikely to afford coverage.

  • As far as I am concerned those that are the heads of organizations that participate in junk fax or telemarketing should be subject to capital punishment. The same could be said for emails. Those that arrange for this type of advertisement are true sleaze bags.

  • After getting the idea from Tyler Cowen, I posted prices on my website for use of my time and my phone line by telemarketers looking to save that 44 cents on mailing me a letter that I can open when it’s convenient for me — or never open:

    Interrupting me during my nap: $3,012.50 (not including tax).
    During dinner: $3,761.23.
    During sex: $13,456.50.
    Other prices available upon request.

    Walter, I’m guessing you aren’t going to be pleased about the legal aspect below, but as I write in my book I SEE RUDE PEOPLE, I typically invoice telemarketing companies, offering them “a substantial discount off my rack rate” (say, $50) if they pay immediately. One company did not pay, and I was force to follow through on my threat to sue them in Santa Monica Small Claims Court — which I did, even though I was terrified (I’m an advice columnist, not a lawyer). But, I’m also a nerd, and I did my homework, and I won: beating their arrogant New York lawyer, their VP for legal affairs for North America. (He brought a single page from the TCPA of 1991 — an act which I’d read in its entirety in my research for my book — and I brought a highlighted, indexed document…19 or 20 pages. Oh, and unlike the doofus lawyer, I read the court rules and knew to bring a copy for him AND the judge, and told him he couldn’t give the judge his copy since he didn’t have a copy for me. Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah. Well, okay, I didn’t say that last part, but it was implied..)

    I’m a capitalist, but telemarketing — hijacking your time and making a telephone you pay for make a shrill noise in your living room — is not capitalism, but theft: temporary theft of your equipment and theft of your time in order to to make some company’s marketing costs cheaper. I call this “the business of abuse,” and it only continues to happen because more people don’t do as I do and refuse to be victimized.

  • Once again, the trial lawyers are trying to get money for themselves. This happened in 2003, 7 years ago. It wasn’t a phone call, it was just a fax that really did not require any attention. What is the plaintiff’s out? Some paper? I really hope that the carrier fights this and prevails.

  • “It wasn’t a phone call, it was just a fax that really did not require any attention. What is the plaintiff’s out? Some paper? ”

    It doesn’t matter what the plaintiff is out. People have decided that they DO NOT want junk faxes and junk phone calls, and the government, responding to the expressed will of the people, has imposed a set of statutory damages for junk faxes and junk phone calls that violate the law.

    If you disagree with that law, you are certainly welcome to lobby for a change, but the ruling as imposed seems to me to be consistent with the law.

  • @Amy: Do you sue companies that place billboards? After all, being forced to see advertisements while I drive is hijacking my time and intruding on my personal space.

  • Here is the thing, the company is bankrupt. So no more junk faxes. And please show me who really uses a fax anymore, let alone receives Junk Faxes. Today, its junk email, which can be blocked or discarded easily. To have a law that makes something like “junk faxes” illegal and allows the imposition of a fine is “Overlawyered”. And then to try to extort some money out of the insurance carrier, is beyond that. The RULING was a foregone conclusion because no one carried anymore, the company was bankrupt. Second, its foolish to try to extort this money from the carrier as it causes the carrier to increase its premiums to cover such lawsuits. This law is stupid and should be ignored.

  • Doug: And it was long ago, in another country, and besides the wench is dead.

  • I used to work for Steve Kirsch, the guy behind junkfax.org and who had a 2.2 Trillion dollar lawsuit ( http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2004/01/61861 )

    I don’t think it’s fair to lump him into the “frivolous lawsuit” category. While faxes are becoming moot (I no longer have one), it is a sad fact of life for most people that the majority of faxes received are “junk” and they cost the recipient a fair amount of money and resources.

    I think the anti-junk fax people just want it to stop.

  • Fax machines and servers can have a high cost associated with abuse. It’s not the paper or the toner/ink. It’s the impact to the business.

    If you have a company that does rely on faxes (and there are those that still do), a junk fax will utilize the circuit for the duration of the fax transmission — blocking other legitimate faxes from being received or sent on that same circuit, impeding the ability to do legitimate business.