Karen Kidd Apr. 6, 2016, 10:07am


FREEPORT, Ill. (Legal Newsline) – A tax-preparation services firm, an American multinational financial services corporation and a restaurant marketing and promotional company are staying quiet in the wake of a federal class action lawsuit filed against them.

"Jackson Hewitt does not comment on pending litigation," Elizabeth Sedlock, managing supervisor of the communications firm Fleishman-Hillard Inc., said on behalf of Jackson Hewitt in an email to Legal Newsline.

"Thank you for your inquiry," American Express Public Affairs Vice President Leah M Gerstner said in her own email to Legal Newsline. "We do not comment on pending litigation."

Restaurant.com did not respond to a request for comment.

All three companies are named defendants in an Illinois man's federal class action suit filed earlier in March in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois-Western Division.

Phil Hollingsworth of Marengo alleges the three companies sent him unauthorized text messages designed to cross-advertise services and offer coupons. That, Hollingsworth alleges, is a violation Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Hollingsworth claims to have never provided any of the three companies with his phone number or prior express consent to receive text messages. Hollingsworth said the messages started on Feb. 10, and he provided screenshots that indicate Hollingsworth replied “stop”; only to receive another text message on Feb. 23.

One message was an advertisement that claimed Hollingsworth could receive a Restaurant.com coupon if he filed his income tax return through Jackson Hewitt and then placed any refund on an American Express credit card, the complaint said.

Another text message claimed Hollingsworth could received his federal refund two days faster with an American Express Serve Card, a screenshot of which is included with the lawsuit.

Hollingsworth's action, which seeks injunctive relief to block further TCPA violations, statutory damages of $500 per violation and treble damages of $1,500 for each violation, defines two potential classes in the suit.

The first class would be defined as those who received the automated messages without prior express written consent. The second class would be defined as those who received more messages after they tried to opt out.

This is not the only TCPA putative class action American Express faces in the same court. Another case filed against American Express in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois-Western Division alleges improper debt collection calls. In that case, Ossola, et al v. American Express Company, et al., a federal judge on Feb. 20 denied American Express’ motion for partial summary judgment.

Instead, the judge stated American Express can be held directly liable under the TCPA for debt collection calls made by a third-party collector.

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