Domino's Dodges Suit Over Robocall Marketing

     SEATTLE (CN) - Domino's is off the hook in a proposed class action over illegal robocalling after a federal judge ruled that the pizza chain is not responsible for the actions of a telemarketing firm or the franchise that hired it.
     Lead plaintiff Carolyn Anderson started a class action against Domino's, a franchisee and a telemarketing firm over automated calls offering pizza deals, which violate the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, as well as a Washington statute.
     Domino's argued that the calls were made by the franchisee Four Our Families, who had hired the telemarketing firm Call-Em-All, and thus it bore no liability in the action.
     Anderson claimed that the pizza company's franchise agreement "makes it clear that Domino's has an extremely broad right to control advertising and marketing decisions, including robo-calling campaigns."
     Domino's moved for summary judgment, arguing that it had no control over the local advertising by Four Our Families. U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton agreed.
     "The mere fact that Domino's requires franchisees to participate in marketing campaigns does not somehow mean that any franchisee's illegal use of an [automatic dialing and announcing device] is imputed to the franchisor," the judge wrote.
     The court declined to grant judgment to Four Our Families, who argued that the calls were not illegal because they did not give the recipient the option of connecting to an operator.
     "The call at issue requested action from the recipient - to return the call and purchase pizza," Judge Leighton found.
     "If unsolicited, such a call would be exactly the type envisioned by the legislature as an 'unwarranted invasion of privacy.'"
     The judge also denied plaintiff Anderson's motion to certify the class action, because the motion was untimely and certification in this case "inflicts a grossly disproportionate and crippling liability, far beyond the actual damages suffered."