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    SuperAmerica OKs $3.5M Settlement for Text Marketing

    A federal judge needs to sign off on the deal.

    WOODBURY, Minn. — A federal judge is set to rule on a $3.5-million deal to settle a lawsuit between SuperAmerica and consumers over Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) claims.

    According to Law360.com, a putative class of consumers suing the convenience store chain asked a Minnesota federal judge for preliminary approval for the settlement. 

    The parties agreed that in final settlement of all TCPA and similar state law claims, SuperAmerica's payment will be up to a maximum of $3.5 million and a minimum of $2 million in cash awards of $50 per class member and in-store awards of $50 per member, the legal news outlet reported.

    The final deal also includes settlement costs such as claims administration costs and court-awarded attorneys' fees of $800,000 or the equivalent of 30 percent of the dollar amount of the approved claims.

    The proposed class is compromised of 175,000 consumers who received marketing text messages from SuperAmerica. According to the report, the settlement is the result of "extensive arm's-length negotiations" between the parties, and before retired U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Jonathan Lebedoff and retired Minnesota District Court Judge Richard Solum, according to lead plaintiff Alex Soular's memo supporting the motion for preliminary approval of the settlement.

    "This court should preliminarily approve the settlement because it is fair, reasonable and adequate for all parties involved in the litigation," Soular said.

    According to Law360.com, Soular sued on Feb. 20, 2015, saying that he received a text message on April 15, 2014, with a "from" field of transmission that was "identified cryptically as 55123," which is an abbreviated telephone number known as an SMS short code, in this case operated by SuperAmerica's agents.

    In knowing violation of Soular's privacy, SuperAmerica continued to text message him numerous spam advertisements originated from the same 55123 short code, Soular said.

    SuperAmerica, in an Oct. 20, 2016, court filing, denied the allegations, including Soular's claim that "the TCPA was designed to prevent calls and messages like the ones described within this complaint, and to protect the privacy of citizens like plaintiffs."

    The retailer argued that its texted advertising wasn't covered under the TCPA's rules against robocalls and prerecorded calls, saying that "significant human intervention" was required in the creation and transmission of its messages, the report said.

    SuperAmerica's method used to generate and transmit the messages didn't involve an automatic telephone dialing system, and Soular had consented to receive the company's messages, SuperAmerica said.

    "Plaintiffs initiated the contact with SuperAmerica, provided their cellular telephone numbers to SuperAmerica in order to receive valuable offers and merchandise and therefore provided their consent for SuperAmerica to send them text messages," the company said.

    Woodbury-based SuperAmerica has more than 240 corporate and franchise locations. The chain is owned by Western Refining Inc.

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