An Illinois federal court has approved a $49.9 million class action settlement in a suit claiming US Coachways Inc.’s text messaging blasts to potential customers violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Most of the settlement will be pursued by the class against the company’s insurer. US Coachways, the national charter bus and bus rental company, was accused of sending a “staggering” amount of text messages beginning in 2011 to customers who had booked past trips as well as people who had requested a quote but didn’t book with the company, in efforts to secure new business. The company is alleged to have sent the estimated 391,459 text messages to about 85,000 individuals’ cellphones using a marketing platform called “Gold Mobile.” The company agreed to settle the TCPA suit for $49.9 million this year.
Unable to satisfy the judgment, US Coachways turned to its insurer, Illinois Union Insurance Co., to pay for the settlement. The insurer declined coverage. This led to an agreement in which US Coachways will assign its rights against Illinois Union to the Plaintiffs and contribute $50,000 toward the settlement amount. A motion seeking final approval of the settlement stated:
Plaintiff and his counsel will next pursue an action against Illinois Union seeking to collect on that judgment. In the event of recovery, the funds from such an action will be deposited into a settlement fund, with distributions from the settlement fund to be approved by this court.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer entered judgment against the charter bus company for $49.9 million, saying “no just reason exists for delay in entering this final approval order and judgment.”
James Bull, the named Plaintiff, filed his suit alleging violation of the TCPA in July 2014. The Ohio resident alleged that over the course of three years, he received more than 20 unsolicited text message ads from US Coachways. The TCPA prohibits computer-generated telemarketing calls to cellphones without that user’s express prior consent. US Coachways’ violation of the law was not limited to interactions with prior customers, but also to individuals, such as the plaintiff, who had never actually entered into a transaction with US Coachways, but merely obtained a quote.
The Plaintiff is represented by Anthony Paronich and Edward A. Broderick of Broderick Law; Brian Kevin Murphy of Murray Murphy Moul Basil; Matthew McCue and Lauren E. Snyder. US Coachways is represented by Angelo John Kappas; Craig J. Mariam; Eulalio J. Garcia and Paul Gamboa of Gordon & Rees; and Elliot R. Schiff of Schiff Gorman. The case is James Bull v. US Coachways Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.