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Defenders Deceptive E-Mail Subject Line FEMCA Florida Class Action

Person Breaking into Home

Florida has an Electronic Mail Communications Act (FEMCA) governing e-mail, including advertising e-mails sent to consumers that are the electronic equivalent of telemarketing. The complaint for this class action alleges that Defenders, Inc. has violated this law in sending spam e-mails. 

The class for this action is all persons within Florida who, between September 20, 2015 and September 20, 2019, were sent the same unsolicited commercial e-mail message sent to the plaintiff in this case, from Defenders or someone acting on behalf of Defenders.

The complaint quotes FEMCA as saying it “is intended to promote the integrity of electronic commerce and shall be construed liberally in order to protect the public and legitimate businesses from deceptive and unsolicited commercial electronic mail.”

The law forbids transmission of an e-mail, either from a computer in Florida or to an e-mail address held by a resident of Florida, if that e-mail contains false or misleading information in the subject line. A violation of this section of the law “shall be deemed an unfair and deceptive trade practice…” under Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA).

Defenders sells home security systems. On or about September 16, 2019, the company sent plaintiff Monica George an e-mail with the subject line “Your ADT Monitored free* offer has arrived.”

The complaint alleges that this statement was false: “Upon opening [Defenders’s] e-mail, [George] observed a lengthy disclosure, in small light font, which in pertinent part stated: ’36-Month Monitoring Agreement required at $27.99 per month ($1,007.64). 24-Month Monitoring Agreement required at $27.99 per month ($671.76) for California.’”

The complaint alleges that this makes the company’s subject-line claim of a “free” monitoring service false or misleading. 

The message, the complaint says, “constitutes an unsolicited commercial electronic mail message under FEMCA  because (1) it was sent to promote the sale or lease of, or investment in, property, goods, or services related to any trade or commerce; and (2) it was sent without [George’s] affirmative or implied consent.”

The complaint spends some paragraphs supporting a private right of action under FEMCA.

The sole count named is violation of FEMCA. The complaint asks for “an injunction to prohibit [Defenders] from further harming consumers, liquidated damages of $500 for each unsolicited commercial electronic mail message sent by [Defenders] to [George] and members of the Class, as well as their attorney’s fees and costs.”

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