September 17, 2008, 12:00 AM

Timberland and GSI settle texting class action suit

Timberland and GSI Commerce have agreed to help establish a $7 million settlement fund to avoid a lengthy court fight over unauthorized text messaging. The final settlement will be reviewed by a U.S. District Court in December.

Bill Briggs

Senior Editor

The Timberland Co. and GSI Commerce Inc. have agreed to help establish a $7 million settlement fund to avoid a lengthy court fight over unauthorized text messaging.

Chicago business analyst Jeffrey Weinstein in December 2005 filed a class action suit in U.S. District Court in Chicago against Timberland, No. 408 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, third party e-commerce service provider GSI Commerce and Airit2me Inc., a Tampa, FL, wireless communications company.

The suit claims that the companies violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending unauthorized text messages advertising a 20% discount on to thousands of wireless cell phone owners who had to pay for the message. The text messages were sent primarily to cell phone owners in Illinois and New York, the suit says.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act restricts the use of automated dialing systems, artificial or pre-recorded voice messages and short message service text messages received by cell phones for unsolicited advertisements.

In court documents, Timberland and GSI deny wrongdoing, but agreed to pay into a $7 million fund to compensate cell phone owners who received the Timberland text messages. In a regulatory filing, GSI said it had established a $900,000 pool to fund its portion of the settlement. Timberland has yet to make a similar regulatory filing and isn’t talking about the suit. The final settlement still must be approved by U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen in December.

Under the settlement, cell phone owners who received the contested text messages are eligible to file a claim for up to $150.


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