Cinema chain AMC has been hit with a class lawsuit claiming
the theater company wrongly added people to marketing lists to send them text
messages promoting upcoming movies and encouraging other purchases.
On Feb. 1, plaintiff Caleb Baldwin, identified in the
document only as a Cook County resident, filed suit in Chicago federal court,
alleging Leawood, Kan.-based AMC violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection
Act by sending the marketing texts without obtaining express written consent
from the recipients.
The lawsuit alleges AMC launched a campaign in 2011 to
collect as many mobile phone numbers from patrons as they could, so as to begin
a text marketing campaign to boost ticket sales and in-theater purchases.
The lawsuit asserted AMC pitched the program as a way to
distribute coupons and other discounts to its customers.
In his complaint, Baldwin recalled texting a message using
AMC’s special texting “short code,” to add his number to AMC’s texting list. In
response to a prompt from AMC, he also sent a text message with the letter “Y”
to confirm his desire to be in the promotional program.
However, after receiving no messages from AMC for several
years, Baldwin asserted he had forgotten he had done so.
But in the weeks leading up to the release of the new film,
Star Wars: Rogue One, Baldwin said he suddenly received several text messages
from AMC promoting the movie and inviting him to purchase full-priced, not
discounted, tickets to an upcoming showing of the film at an AMC theater.
Baldwin said he texted STOP to AMC, but received no
confirmation that the messages would no longer be sent.
While he conceded he voluntarily supplied AMC with his
information, and texted “Y” to confirm, Baldwin’s lawsuit asserts this did not
qualify as “written” consent, as required under the TCPA law.
Plaintiffs are asking the judge to award statutory damages
of $500 per violation, plus other damages, the complaint said.
Baldwin is represented in the action by attorneys with the
firm of Lite DePalma Greenberg LLC, of Chicago.
AMC is the largest movie theater chain in the world,
operating 661 theaters in the U.S. The company directly operates cinemas in 33
Illinois communities, including six in Chicago, according to the company’s