Buffalo Bills agree to pay $3 million to settle excessive text message lawsuit
The Buffalo Bills have agreed to pay upwards of $3 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that alleges the team sent fans text messages in excess of what consumer protection laws allow.
One of the plaintiffs, Jerry Wojcik, a Bills fan who resides in Florida, contended in his 2012 suit that he received 13 text messages from the team in a two-week span, marginally in excess of the 5 messages per week the team stated it would send to fans when they signed up for the text message alert service. Wojcik claimed he received six messages the second week after he signed up and then seven messages during a later, one-week period. That’s splitting hairs quite a bit, right?
Despite many legal experts contending that the class-action lawsuit was frivolous in nature, the Bills have agreed to issue the $3 million settlement in the form of debit cards … the catch being that the debit cards are redeemable only in the Bills team store, either online or at the brick and mortar store at Ralph Wilson Stadium. How clever and deliciously sneaky!
Details regarding the settlement, which is expected to be formalized at a hearing on Aug. 20, via The Buffalo News:
But in a settlement filed last week in federal court in Tampa, Fla., the Bills agreed to provide up to $2.5 million in debit cards to people who had signed up for the text service, along with $562,500 to Wojcik’s lawyers and $5,000 in cash to Wojcik as class representative.
The estimated value of the debit cards that will be issued to class members who received more than five alerts in a given week is $2,487,745. The cards can be used at the Bills store at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park or online at the team’s website. They can’t be redeemed for cash.
The debit cards are worth $57.50, $65 or $75, depending on which class tier a fan is assigned to, and the Bills said in a legal filing that an estimated 39,750 phone numbers had been registered through the now-defunct text-messaging service.
A motion that accompanied the settlement order argued that the offer of Bills debit cards was an appropriate form of settlement because the class consists of Bills fans.
Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold issued the following statement regarding the settlement on Monday.
“The Buffalo Bills have reached a settlement in this matter which we believe is in the best interest of our organization and our fans. The purpose of the Bills’ voluntary, opt-in text messaging program was to provide our fans with information they requested about the team. The organization maintains that our text messaging program was in compliance with the law.”
The terms of the settlement also spells out that the team will “promise to put in place “safeguards” to ensure any new service abides by limits set by the team on the number of messages.” Because 13 messages in a two-week, non-consecutive time span — at least in the instance of Wojcik’s claim — is way too many when, you know, the team should have only been sending 10.
While this cannot be confirmed, rumor has it that on some occasions, this were the kind of texts fans were receiving on some occasions:
Okay, okay, I kid, I kid. Clearly there is no chance whatsoever that the Bills were sending messages in the nature of unsolicited booty texts?
Wait, booty texts? Is that what they’re calling it these days? Sorry, I’m not hip to the lingo the kids are using these days to describe their illicit, late-night hookups. Further, is ‘You there?” the typical message for so-called booty texts? Or is “You up?” the preferred nomenclature? So many questions, so much ignorance.