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Primary plaintiff Matthew Gottlieb filed the CITGO class action lawsuit alleging the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by sending unsolicited text messages promoting upcoming sweepstakes. Originally enacted to prevent annoying telemarketers from harassing consumers who want to be left alone, the TCPA has expanded its legal reach over the past several decades to account for rapidly changing technology, such as the introduction of text messaging. Penalties for violating the TCPA range from $500 to $1,500 for each infringement.
According to the CITGO TCPA class action settlement documents, CITGO ran several text-to-win sweepstakes contests from 2014 through 2016. CITGO promoted the sweepstakes at different entertainment venues, such as concerts, theme parks, and sports stadiums. Gottlieb claimed in the class action lawsuit that he entered two sweepstakes sponsored by CITGO on July 31, 2015. At the time, Gottlieb was in attendance at a concert held in West Palm Beach, Florida. A little more than one year after entering the two CITGO sweepstakes, Gottlieb claimed he began receiving test messages from CITGO informing Gottlieb of upcoming sweepstakes. Gottlieb asserted during the class action lawsuit that he never agreed to allow CITGO to send the sweepstakes text messages.
Gottlieb charged CITGO with sending three unsolicited text messages. CITGO sent about 93,000 similar text messages promoting sweepstakes contests to unsuspecting consumers. Terms of the class action settlement require CITGO to set up an $8 million fund for distribution as an incentive award to Gottlieb and payment to eligible class members. Money also goes towards paying court costs and attorney fees. CITGO continues to deny the charges made in the class action lawsuit, but the company signed off on the class action settlement to avoid the uncertainty of prolonged litigation.
What You Need To Know About The CITGO Unwanted Texts Class Action Settlement
According to class counsel, eligible class members of the CITGO unwanted texts class action settlement “include anyone in the United States who received at least one text message sent by or on behalf of CITGO in August, October and/or November 2016.” The potential award depends on the number eligible class members who file valid and timely claim forms. Court documents revealed class members must submit the cell phone number where CITGO sent at least one text message to receive compensation from the class action settlement fund. Class members must also declare under the penalty of perjury that they received the text messages from CITGO in August, October, and/or November of 2016.
The deadline for filing a valid claim form is December 14, 2017. The judge presiding over the class action settlement case Matthew Gottlieb v. CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Case No. 9:16-cv-81911-RLR, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Palm Beach Division has scheduled the final hearing on November 29, 2017. Find out what transpired at the final hearing by visiting the class action settlement website www.citgoTCPASettlement.com.