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 website.