A promotional campaign executed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) received a lawsuit in March for allegedly texting and calling consumers without their consent, in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The campaign was carried out to promote plant-based meat substitute company Beyond Meat. Both Beyond Meat and PETA are named as defendants. PETA filed a motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit in the Southern District of California.
“PETA brings this Motion on the grounds that Plaintiff’s nationwide class claims must be dismissed or stricken because the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over the claims of unnamed putative class members who did not receive any text messages from PETA in California,” the motion states.
Nazrin Massaro, represented by Nicholas and Tomasevic, filed the lawsuit against Beyond Meat, represented by Lathan & Watkins, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Inc., represented by Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.
The complaint alleges that the defendants use “unsolicited text message advertising with no regard for consumers’ privacy rights.” Massaro claims they sent thousands of text messages to herself and other members of the class and asks for injunctive relief and statutory damages. It cites the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) which prohibits using an automatic dialing system without consent from the recipient. It claims the plaintiff only needs to show that the defendant called a telephone number using an automatic dialing system or prerecorded voice, without written consent.
The texts sent said “DYK Beyond Meat is available at all On The Border locations? Yum! Be sure to order it at your local restaurant. <3 Melissa from PETA.” The petitioner claimed these texts were sent by PETA, but authorized by Beyond Meat and similar calls and texts were sent to thousands of other numbers. PETA, a non-profit organization, would be exempt from needing written consent, however, the plaintiff argued in this instance they are not exempt since they were engaged in marketing for Beyond Meat.
The motion to dismiss will be considered in court on July 9 before Judge Anthony Battaglia. PETA also filed a request to stay the proceedings until the Federal Communications Commission has made a ruling on the definition of Automatic Telephone Dialing System, a key component of the TCPA’s enforcement mechanism.