Second federal lawsuit filed against Restaurant.com
Loop North News

Legal
Phil Hollingsworth

(Above) A text message received by Phil Hollingsworth on February 17, offering a $25 gift certificate from Restaurant.com. The link in the message goes to Restaurant.com’s website. (Click on image to view larger version.)

7-Apr-16 – An Illinois man has responded to unwanted text messages with a federal class action lawsuit against three companies, including Restaurant.com.

The Arlington Heights company, whose executive officers include two River North residents, is defending itself in another federal lawsuit that was filed five years ago by two residents of New Jersey who claim the fine print on gift cards they purchased from Restaurant.com violated laws in their state.

The new lawsuit was filed in United States District Court on March 11 by Phil Hollingsworth of Marengo, Illinois, about 60 miles northwest of Chicago.

Hollingsworth claims he received “unauthorized text messages” on his mobile phone in February from Restaurant.com, American Express, and Jackson Hewitt, a tax preparation service. The messages were advertisements that cross-promoted the three businesses. For example, if he filed his income tax return through Jackson Hewitt and accepted his refund on an American Express credit card, Hollingsworth would receive a gift certificate from Restaurant.com.

Claims could total millions of dollars

He says he did not consent to receive the text messages, which he continued to get after texting back “STOP,” as instructed by the ads. Hollingsworth says the messages violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and he’s entitled to at least $500 and as much as $1,500 per violation.

According to his complaint, the number of potential class members is “in the tens of thousands.”

A status hearing is scheduled for April 28.

In the New Jersey case, both sides have until Friday to file motions for judgment from the court regarding damages and attorney fees. A settlement conference is scheduled for June 29.

Restaurant.com is owned by Dr. Kenneth Chessick, a lawyer who lives at Marina City and is the company’s CEO. His wife, Ellen Chessick, is president of Marina Towers Condominium Association and is identified as vice president of Restaurant.com in a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2012. In a 2013 letter to unit owners at Marina City, Ellen Chessick said she was “among the founders” of Restaurant.com but more recently has denied being an owner of the company.

Northern Illinois University

(Above) Kenneth (at podium) and Ellen Chessick on October 26, 2013, at the official unveiling of the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center at Northern Illinois University. Photo obtained from Northern Illinois University.

• Contact Steven Dahlman at sdahlman@loopnorth.com

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