Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Unwanted faxes could create $270M headache for Tampa Bay Bucs

TAMPA — Some among us remember the fax machine, that monument to late 20th century office technology whose vogue peaked sometime before the crumbling of the Berlin Wall.

There may even be a fax machine tucked away in a quiet corner of your office, lighting up every few days as it receives a news release about a local furniture sale, its muted beeps like the gibbering of an old soldier recounting past campaigns to an empty room.

While it might be obsolescent in the era of digital communication, the fax machine is poised to play an unlikely central role in a high-stakes lawsuit against the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in federal court.

A Gainesville business, exasperated by faxed ads for Buccaneers tickets several years ago, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tampa earlier this week, alleging the football franchise violated a federal statute that outlaws "junk faxes."

Because the lawsuit asserts that 180,000 people were sent such fax messages, the team could theoretically be liable for $90 million under the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005, which establishes a $500 fine for each unwanted fax. That figure could range as high as $270 million if the court determines that the faxes were "intentional," said Tampa attorney Michael Addison.

Addison, who is representing Cin-Q Automobiles Inc. in the suit, said the business owner "was annoyed" by a fax in 2009 and sought out legal recourse. It is unclear whether the situation was aggravated by the Bucs' 3-13 record that year.

In court papers, Addison asks a federal judge to certify Cin-Q's complaint as a class-action lawsuit. A previous suit was filed but withdrawn in Hillsborough Circuit Court.

"It's a big enough case that we thought it probably belonged in federal court," Addison said.

Nelson Luis, director of communications for the Buccaneers, declined to comment on the faxes because of the pending litigation.

Addison can make the unusual claim of being a pioneer in the field of fax law, having worked a decade ago on a case in which Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that plaintiffs can sue in state court under the federal junk-fax statute.

Luis would not comment on whether the Bucs' faxes are still being sent, but Addison said he believes the team relented sometime in 2010, after the suit was initially filed in state court.

"I got one of these faxes myself," Addison said.

The federal lawsuit offers the humble fax machine and its legal trappings a brief return to prominence. But even Addison acknowledged that the shadows lengthen in the legal terrain he helped to map.

"I have a fax machine, and it hardly ever turns on anymore," the lawyer said.

Peter Jamison can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Unwanted faxes could create $270M headache for Tampa Bay Bucs 06/21/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 21, 2013 9:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.