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Fed up with junk faxes, some are sending back lawsuits
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Friday, March 19, 2004
Fed up with junk faxes, some are sending back lawsuits ; ‘We’re going after the means of solicitation,’ says irate lawyer
The call interrupting dinner. E-mail clogging the inbox. Faxes jamming the machine.
Two Chicago lawyers and a small business owner are doing something to stop at least one of those unsolicited annoyances. They’re taking back their faxes.
In a lawsuit filed this week in Cook County Circuit Court, attorneys Stephen Kerschner and Burton Witt say they have received unsolicited offers via their fax machine. And they want it to stop.
Separately, James Brill, who operates a warehouse on the Near South Side, has sued for the same matter. Brill is suing now-defunct, California-based Giant Advertising. But Kerschner and Witt are suing Zealous, the trendy River North restaurant that has been at 419 W. Superior since 2002.
Zealous, they claim, inundated them with unsolicited faxes, violating state and federal telecommunications nuisance laws. The torrent of faxes also might have prevented legal ones from getting through. “If it was the only fax they’d ever sent to me, I’d probably drop it,” Kerschner said. “But it wasn’t. We’re doing this as a class- action because we’re going after the means of solicitation, spreading these faxes across a whole market.”
The suit filed this week against Zealous is the third Kerschner has filed. Zealous owner Michael Taus, cited personally in the suit, wouldn’t come to the phone Thursday to respond to the latest action.
Attorney Daniel Edelman, who is representing Kerschner, Witt and Brill, said Taus’ mass effort to promote his restaurant was more than annoying — it was illegal.
“[Taus] mass-faxed to the entire Loop and Near North area,” Edelman said. “We’re still trying to determine how many [Taus] sent, but this is a problem around the country — a law firm in Washington, D.C., sued because they got 4,000 faxes and one hospital got 2,000 faxes in one night.”
Edelman is the only Illinois attorney listed at junkfax.org, a Web site set up to help people understand their rights that gives instructions on how to sue to block unwanted, unsolicited faxes.
“You can take personal action and recover $500 to $1,500 for every page of every unsolicited fax you receive,” said Steve Kirsch, who founded the Web site and has filed a $2.2 trillion class-action suit against fax.com — which he says is responsible for mass- mailing millions of faxes each year, on behalf of paying clients. “I’ve sued them and I still get their faxes. The best advice I can give people is to save those faxes.”
Kerschner says he just wants to be able to do business without the unsolicited, annoying interruption. “Six of us attorneys share faxes and it’s trouble enough sorting through those,” he said. “But junk faxes can actually stop legitimate faxes from even getting through.”
Daniel Edelman has filed suit against Zealous over promotional faxes it allegedly sent.