A lawyer who faxed biweekly updates to more than 200 accountants containing “mundane advice” along with his specialties and contact information could be liable for millions of dollars in damages because the faxes were “unsolicited advertisements” that violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In this class action brought by recipients of the faxes, the district court ordered the lawyer to pay statutory damages of $500 for each of his 8,430 faxes, for a total of about $4.2 million. The 7th Circuit affirmed summary judgment against the lawyer, but remanded for reconsideration of how the statutory damages award should be allocated.
The defendant, an attorney, sent unsolicited faxes in the form of a newsletter, which consisted primarily of generic business advice. However, part of the transmissions contained the defendant’s name, business information, and logo, along with the fact that he was an attorney and his practice areas. The faxes were written and produced by a marketing firm and sent on the defendant’s behalf. The defendant did not review the faxes before they were sent to plaintiffs.