In Latest Suit, Curaleaf Sued for Unwanted Text Messages

By Hilary Corrigan
Aug 13, 2020

Another cannabis company faces a federal class action lawsuit over telemarketing.

New Windsor, New York, resident Katherine Brooks sued Curaleaf Inc. Wednesday in U.S. District Court, New York’s Southern District. The complaint alleges the multi-state operator violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) that aims to curtail “abusive telemarketing practices.” (Read the complaint.)

The industry has seen quite a few similar class actions recently. There’s a case in federal court in California against cannabis agricultural services provider Hydroponics Inc.—Route Four LLC. And reports this week lay out claims against Michigan cannabis companies over similar allegations. Other cannabis companies have faced similar cases this year and last year and in previous recent years. Attorneys continue warning cannabis companies about the issue.

The cases deal with telemarketing practices prohibited under law. In general, they focus on automatically-generated texts to cell phone owners who did not grant permission for the messages.

According to Brooks’ complaint, Curaleaf used an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) “to bombard consumers’ mobile phones with non-emergency advertising and marketing text messages” without prior written consent.

Parties in the case did not respond to requests for comment.

Privacy protection

The complaint argues the TCPA “was designed to prevent calls and text messages like the ones described herein, and to protect the privacy of citizens like Plaintiff.” 

With the TCPA, Congress intended to give consumers a choice in how creditors and telemarketers contacted them, the suit says. It prohibits ATDS calls to phones where the called party is charged for the call. It also prohibits telemarketing calls that use ATDS or prerecorded voices without prior consent from those called. And text messages are considered calls under TCPA.

The suit says Curaleaf sent two automated, unsolicited text messages to Brooks’ cell phone in June. Brooks didn’t reply, but got two more similar messages in July from a different phone number, and a third that month from a third phone number. The messages tout Curaleaf promotions and links go to the company’s website.

Brooks hadn’t given consent to send text messages to her cell phone by using ATDS, the complaint states. And Curaleaf sent identical text messages to thousands of other consumers. The suit alleges Curaleaf used equipment that can store or produce numbers to call and automatically dial them.

Receiving the messages drained Brooks’ phone battery and caused additional electricity expenses and wear and tear on her phone and battery, the suit says. They also invaded Brooks’ privacy and took up her time.

The complaint expects the case’s discovery process to determine the number of class members, but says Curaleaf texted thousands nationwide. It seeks a jury trial and calls for each class member to get at least $500 and up $1,500 in damages for each violation. It also urges blocking Curaleaf from sending texts to cell phones using ATDS.

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