Insurance Company To Cover Damages Due To Unsolicited Fax
A Milwaukee company, Atlas Heating and Sheet Metal Works Inc. has been sued in state court over what is considered to be an unsolicited fax, otherwise known as a junk fax. The company violated federal law which prohibits the publication of unsolicited fax material that is considered junk mail.
One of the recipients of these so called junk faxes was Isaac Sawyer, owner of A1 Security Locksmiths. Sawyer went as far as filing a lawsuit against Atlas Heating claiming that they violated his right to privacy as well as property damage because of the unnecessary waste of ink and paper in printing the fax and damage through wear and tear of the actual fax machine. The original claim is based on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, this act ensure the privacy of individuals with fines of up to five hundred dollars per violation.
In further developments the same Mr Sawyer also petitioned the court to find if the company that insures Atlas, West Bend Mutual, should be responsible for covering the subsequent damages brought by the claim. Timothy Dugan, a Milwaukee County Circuit judge ruled in favour ruling that the insurance company should indeed cover the costs of the damages brought by Atlas’s unsolicited junk fax campaign.
This was not the end of it and the insurance company’s attorneys then appealed this ruling. The insurance company’s attorney’s counter argued that the insurance company’s policy only covers private individuals and Sawyer received the fax as a business under A1 Locksmiths. The attorneys also argued that the single sheet fax could not really be considered a publication.
In further developments the counter argument was rejected by two to on in the court of appeals. In explanation the presiding judge, explained that Sawyer was a person as much as any of the other individuals who received the fax. The presiding judge also further clarified that the document was indeed a publication because it was printed on paper and transmitted through fax to the public at large; this is essentially the definition of a publication.