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The Augusta Chronicle

A California-based consumer advocacy group doesn’t just want to end the practice of “junk” faxing. It wants to terminate it.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights announced this week that, using the same law Augusta residents used to sue Hooters of America in March, it has filed a lawsuit against an eatery founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The foundation says a win in court against Mr. Schwarzenegger’s Schatzi on Main in Santa Monica, Calif., would serve as a deterrent against unsolicited fax advertising. Other Santa Monica businesses also are named in the suit.

Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, businesses must first receive permission to send ads over a facsimile machine or face a $500 to $1,500 penalty per fax.

The ads in question, which arrived at the consumer group’s office as recently as February, feature the slogan “You’ll be back” – a play on one of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s trademark movie lines.

The faxes were a cooperative effort sent by FAXertise of Westlake Village, Calif., and are similar to one Hooters of Augusta participated in six years ago. An Augusta jury ruled March 21 against Hooters in the 1,300-member class-action suit.

Damages will be awarded at an April 17 hearing. The amount could range from an estimated $4 million to $12 million.

“As Georgia has its Hooters, we have our Schatzi on Main, a famous business that has been invading the privacy of citizens,” said David A. Holtzman, an attorney for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

“Usually, it’s celebrities who complain about their privacy being invaded,” he added.

Mr. Holtzman said he hopes the companies sued will in turn sue FAXertise. FAXertise is named in a separate suit by his organization.

The attorney said the suit is not a class action. Citing California restitution law, he said his goal is to force the defendants to send checks to everyone who received faxes.

Mr. Holtzman said the outcome could be high dollar, like the Hooters case, but did not give specific figures.

Consumer Watchdog
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