advertisement, others accused of sending unwanted texts to consumers

A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a Marengo consumer is seeking class-action status to stop unwanted text messages from companies, including Arlington Heights-based

The online restaurant discount site, along with New York-based American Express Co., and Jersey City, New Jersey-based Jackson Hewitt Inc. were accused of sending Phil Hollingsworth unsolicited texts on his mobile phone beginning on Feb. 10 to about Feb. 23 with promotional offers from the companies, the lawsuit said.

"The liability is $500 per text to anyone in the class. These are not a joke," said Sergei Lemberg, an attorney with Connecticut-based Lemberg Law LLC, which filed the lawsuit. spokeswoman Tania German said was not involved in writing or distributing the text message campaign, although it is a marketing partner with Jackson Hewitt on other efforts.

"We also have not yet been served or notified about this lawsuit," German said.

The lawsuit was filed on March 11 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Western Division. It outlines how spam is a growing problem nationwide and how receiving unsolicited text messages on your phone is in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. The case used the texts received by Hollingsworth as an example.

Written consent from the consumer is required before a company can send texts, the suit said.

The case is seeking to become a class-action lawsuit. It also seeks to prohibit the companies from violating the law, pay statutory damages of $500 to $1,500 for each text that violates the law, and pay for all attorneys' fees and court costs for the plaintiffs.

After notification, the companies are required to file their responses in court or file motions to dismiss the case. Lemberg could not say whether the companies had been formally notified yet of the filing.

American Express spokeswoman Marina Hoffmann Norville and Jackson Hewitt spokeswoman Elizabeth Sedlock both declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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