The Los Angeles Lakers offered fans a chance to have an interactive experience while attending games at the Staples Center. Like so many professional sports teams nationwide, the Lakers offered fans the opportunity to send a text message to get involved with an in-game promotion. In this case, the Lakers' production team offered to have fans' text messages displayed on the "jumbotron."
Fans who sent that text received a reply. Anybody who has participated in these types of in-game promotions probably knew to expect some sort of response in the form of a text message. It would appear that one fan, however, has a problem with that text and is going to take advantage of the opportunity to sue the Lakers under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
One fan, however, wants to give back to the team in the form of a class action lawsuit. Why is he suing the Lakers? During a game, the team offered fans the chance to have their custom text message displayed on the “Jumbotron.”
Because of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, a law originally designed to stop telemarketers from systematically calling huge batches of numbers, this fan and others are able to sue the Lakers and the Clippers for getting any text sent back to them, even though they initiated the first text to participate in the offer.
This once again highlights the problems with TCPA. For one thing, the law was originally intended to curb telemarketing. Similar to the way it shouldn't apply to collection agencies, it also should not apply to an NBA team if it is not engaged in telemarketing. To say that responding to a text that a fan chose to send is a form of telemarketing seems like a strained interpretation indeed.
Becca Wahlquist, an expert in TCPA litigation, offers the following thoughts on the problem:
“These were companies responding to text messages sent to them, and responded back with a text message,” explains Wahlquist. “When the TCPA was created in 1991 there were no text messages, there weren’t smart phones, there weren’t these kinds of technologies, and so companies who are using these sorts of technologies are finding themselves subject to lawsuits for a statute they may not have really known could apply to them.”
You can check out a short video about the Los Angeles Lakers and their TCPA problem below.
We feel safe in saying that we can add the Lakers to the list of organizations and companies that agree: TCPA needs to be modernized. It's time to fix this outdated law.