The cannabis technology company Eaze finds itself in legal jeopardy as a class action lawsuit has been filed alleging that the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 by sending out unsolicited marketing text messages en masse various individuals across the country.
Under the TCPA, companies are prohibited from sending unsolicited adverting messages and from making a call or text using automated telephone equipment to contact individuals through any service for which the recipient is charged.
The lawsuit was filed by Farrah Williams and reported in MJ Biz Daily, who alleges that between September 2017 through the present she received dozens of unsolicited texts messages from Eaze. Williams, who works nights at a nursing home, claims that the continuous messages sent by Eaze throughout the day would wake her up and prevent her from going back to sleep; causing her to become irritable and distracted.
Williams’ suit claims that Eaze contacted her through the use of an autodialer and that the same had happened to countless others. To bolster this claim, Williams provided text messages from Eaze as well as social media posts made by individuals making the same allegations.
“@Eaze_Team @Handstack received an unsolicited text message from you guys. how do you have my number???” reads one tweet posted on June 17, 2017.
“What company is idiotic enough to use unsolicited SMS as a marketing scheme? @Eaze_Team is going to get sued out of existence,” reads another.
Although it is possible to opt-out of receiving text messages from Eaze by replying with the word “Stop,” Williams claims that she was not made aware of this option in the message.
The case goes into great detail about the money that Eaze has raised and suggests that the money was raised off the tremendous growth that Eaze was experiencing, but that the success was achieved through “growth hacking.” The suit claims, “The reality is that Defendant “growth hacked” its way to the top of the pot delivery business – specifically, by relentlessly bombarding existing and prospective customers with text messages and other digital spam, day after day, en masse, without anyone’s permission, precisely as experienced by Plaintiff here.” The case claims the growth hacking was at the expense of people’s privacy.
It went on to state, “The inconvenient truth, however, is that Defendant’s exponential growth is not attributable to the quality of the product it delivers or the convenience of the service it provides – after all, the product is not even grown by Defendant, and Defendant is hardly the first drug dealer to deliver.”
The case also mentions the technology provided by (among other agents or affiliates) a company called Bitesize, which was founded
and is operated by an individual named Jessica Lee. Bitesize’s text messaging technology “helps companies,” including Defendant, “drive sales with interactive text message[s],” which Bitesize sends on the companies’ behalf in “bulk.” The case goes on to say, “The
founder and CEO of Bitesize, Jessica Lee, personally responded to the complaint by assuring the individual that Defendant’s text message program is “completely CAN-SPAM compliant.”
The lawsuit says that the text messages at issue, in this case, were sent by Bitesize on behalf of Defendant with the wrong regulatory scheme in mind.
As restitution Williams is seeking an injunction prohibiting Eaze from committing any further violation of the TCPA, $2000 for herself and each member of the lawsuit for each and every text message that violated the TCPA, and payment of attorneys’ fees and costs.
If found guilty of violating the TCPA, and if more join the class action lawsuit, the cost of paying Williams and the other plaintiffs could potential bankrupt Eaze.
As outlined by the lawsuit, the outcome of the case will hinge on five important questions:
- Did Eaze or its agents transmit marketing/advertising messages to the plaintiffs?
- Was Eaze using an automatic dialer to transmit the messages?
- Can Eaze demonstrate that it had expressed written consent to send the messages?
- Was Eaze’s conduct knowing or willful?
- Should Eaze be prevented from performing such actions again?
So far Eaze has not made any public comment on the case and has proffered no rebuttal to any of the claims the suit makes. As the lawsuit is still in its infancy, it could be months or even years before the case reaches a definitive conclusion.
One cannabis industry expert that preferred to not be identified said the suit didn’t pass the smell test for them. “It’s either a class-action grab by the lawyer or someone out to get Eaze,” they said. “It just seemed odd. You can’t text stop, but you can file a lawsuit?”