Michigan’s marijuana industry is facing a series of class action lawsuits, which accuse at least three companies of targeting consumers with unsolicited robocalls and text messages.
According to MLive.com, each lawsuit was filed by Florida-based firm Shamis & Gentile. In their complaint, they have claimed that companies—including MichiCann Medical, AEY Capital, and Light ‘n Up Provisioning and Microbuddery—used an assortment of illegal telemarketing tactics to reach potential customers.
The plaintiffs reportedly conducted outreach campaigns by sending unsolicited text messages and spam robocalls, both of which are violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Shamis, says MLive.com, claims that the companies’ unwanted communications “resulted in the invasion of privacy, harassment, aggravation, and disruption of the daily life of thousands of individuals.”
Because the lawsuits have been filed by an individual firm on behalf of individual clients as prospective class actions, each class could constitute thousands of Michigan residents.
MLive.com notes that Shamis’s firm regularly pursues companies which engage in unsolicited telemarketing—to date, many of Shamis & Gentile’s targets have been medical marijuana businesses.
Ben Joffe, an Ann Arbor-based attorney with the Benjamin D. Joffe law firm, voiced suspicions that this round of class actions could be a “troll”—if not in the sense frequently used online.
“Sometimes, we would call this a lawsuit troll,” Joffe told MLive.com. “They try to get it certified as a class action hoping somebody sent out 100,000 and they can settle for $50 each text message or even
“As an attorney,” Joffe added, “you’ve got the retainer and that lets you take a third of that or whatnot.”
MLive.com—which broke the story—said its journalists had a chance to review Shamis’s lawsuits. In the firm’s filings, they stated they are seeking damages of up to $1,500 per unsolicited text message.
While Shamis declined to provide comment to MLive.com, the website did cite portions of each complaint. In one—filed on behalf of Lenawee County resident Dane Theisen—the lawsuit claims that Gage Cannibas, owned by AEY Capital, sent promotional offers to Theisen without any sort of authorization.
“At no point did plaintiff provide defendant with express written consent to be contacted using an [automated telemarketing system],” the lawsuit states. “The numbers used by defendant are known as a ‘long code,’ a standard 10-digit phone number that enabled defendant to send text messages en masse, while deceiving recipients into believing that the message was personalized and sent from a telephone number operated by an individual.”
Joffe told MLive.com that he expects Shamis & Gentile will file more lawsuits against Michigan-based cannabis companies.
“If this guy is doing this, I would guess he’s going to try as many places as he can because it’s all the same lawsuit,” Joffe said. “He’s basically writing the exact same complaint other than a few facts that change.”
“That’s why I call it lawsuit trolling,” Joffe added.