July 11, 2002
Faxing can get expensive but Newbold Toyota-BMW of O'Fallon, IL, had no idea it would run up a potential tab of $6.5 million.
That's the amount the suburban St. Louis car dealer has agreed to pay to settle a class-lawsuit over the unsolicited "junk fax" advertisements it sent to more than 33,000 businesses and homes in the 314 and 636 area codes in early 2001.
Unsolicited fax advertisements are barred by federal law, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which provides heavy fines for each unsolicited fax. The dealership's owners claimed they didn't know that when they hired a company to conduct the fax blitz.
Under the settlement reached by Newbold and the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, anyone who received a junk fax from the car dealer can claim up to $500 for each fax received. A judge must still approve the proposed settlement.
A notice of the settlement has been sent -- by fax, no less -- to each of the 33,000 numbers turned over by the company that conducted the fax blast. That company, American Blast Fax of Dallas, has since used its last roll of fax paper and gone out of business.