The first fax machine was patented before the U.S. Civil War, but amazingly, the technology has lasted to the present day. There is one attorney, however, who probably wishes that the machine had died out a long, long time ago. That attorney is Gregory Turza, from Park Ridge, Ill.
On Aug. 26, 2013, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Turza to pay $500 per unsolicited fax that was successfully delivered from his office. That doesn’t sound too bad … until you realize that his office sent 8,430 unsolicited faxes, which equals more than $4 million in statutory damages. Turza owes $1.4 million in attorneys’ fees and expenses alone.
Turza was charged under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which regulates solicitors and established the National Do Not Call registry. The Act also banned unsolicited advertising faxes.
According to the complaint filed against the attorney, Turza hired a marketing firm in an attempt to get his name out to accountants. The Wall Street Journal says he told the marketing firm to fax hundreds of accountants thousands of different promotional ads under the guise of a monthly newsletter. One of the newsletters named in the complaint included obvious tips for buying a laptop (“If you plan to use it a lot on the go, find one that’s under 5 lbs.”) with the lawyer’s name featured prominently at the bottom. None of the faxes contained opt-out information.
Turza’s attorneys tried to argue that plaintiffs would need to prove that each unsolicited fax was actually printed. However, the 7th Circuit disagreed with that interpretation.
“To the extent Turza contends that each recipient must prove that he printed the fax (wasting paper) or otherwise suffered monetary loss, he is wrong on the law. The statute provides a $500 penalty for the annoyance,” the court said. “Even a recipient who gets the fax on a computer and deletes it without printing suffers some loss: the value of the time necessary to realize that the inbox has been cluttered by junk.”
To read the full ruling from the 7th Circuit, check out this online PDF from the Wall Street Journal.
But Turza isn’t the first to get in trouble with the TCPA. For more spam-filled stories, check out these InsideCounsel articles: