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Joe Henderson Columns

Henderson: The 'fax' in this case could cost Bucs millions

Published:   |   Updated: June 20, 2013 at 01:38 PM

Most of us have learned to deal with unwanted pitches to buy stuff we know we don't need. Maybe you hit the delete button on your laptop or you pitch direct mail into the recycle bin.

That can be annoying, but most of us don't make a federal case out of it.

The people at Cin-Q Automobiles in Gainesville are not most people.

At issue are faxed solicitations in 2009 to buy tickets to watch your Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they stumbled, bumbled and fumbled their way to a 3-13 season.

OK, I added the last part about the stumbling, et al, for dramatic emphasis. Cin-Q would probably like us just to stick to the fax of the story.

A class-action complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa over what the plaintiffs say are violations of the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005. It maintains the Bucs used a company called FaxQom.com to reach 180,000 businesses in its target area, among them, Cin-Q Automobiles.

The lawsuit seeks $500 a violation for, gulp, all those theoretically unwilling businesses that received faxed sales pitches sent on behalf of the Bucs. The lawsuit also asks for treble damages.

If they get all that (which, of course, they won't) it could bring the total to $270 million. That's even more than new Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis makes, although the website uni-watch.com says Revis paid $50,000 to a teammate so he can have his trademark No. 24 jersey this season and beyond. He must be doing OK.

"Maybe we can get his number," Tampa attorney Michael C. Addison said.

He was making a little joke there, but when we get federal court involved it's no laughing matter. This case was originally filed in state court and has been bouncing around since 2009 before it was moved this week to the feds.


Among other gripes, the suit maintains the nuisance faxes caused the recipients "to lose paper and ink/toner as a result. Defendants' actions prevented Plaintiff's fax machine from being used for Plaintiff's business purposes during the time the Defendants were using Plaintiff's fax machine for Defendants' illegal purpose."

"I actually got one of those (faxes) too, back in the day," Addison said. "I said, 'Hey, that's an illegal fax.' "

He said he threw it away.

There are a couple of points to be made here.

No. 1: This suit probably seems frivolous to many, but those unwanted pitches are annoying. I got a phone call from some company the other night at 9 trying to create a need in my life and then fill it. I should sue them.

No. 2: The Bucs used faxes to sell tickets? I mean, seriously ... faxes? Now we know why they don't sell enough tickets to lift the local TV blackouts.

Perhaps a sophisticated marketing campaign would work better.

Or a winning season.

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