The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington preliminarily approved a $5.3 million settlement of a Telephone Consumer Protection Act class action against taxi cab companies Orange Cab Company, Inc. and RideCharge, Inc. 

According to the complaint, the defendants worked together to develop an app, known as “Taxi Magic,” for cell phones that enables users to use their cell phones to arrange and purchase transportation by taxi cabs.  Once a driver agrees to a request to pick up a customer, Taxi Magic sends a text message to the customer’s phone stating the cab number, expected time of arrival, and an invitation to download Taxi Magic.  Named plaintiff Torrey Gragg alleged that the defendants sent tens of thousands of these unsolicited text messages to advertise Taxi Magic to cell phone subscribers throughout the country using an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”). 

In 2014, the district court certified Gragg’s putative class, comprised of Washington consumers.  The defendants filed a motion to reconsider, which was denied by the Court, and also requested an interlocutory appeal on the issue of certification, which was denied by the Ninth Circuit.  The parties subsequently agreed to mediate the matter, and a settlement was ultimately reached. 

The settlement class consists of all persons or entities who received at least one dispatch notification text message on their cellular telephone from the defendants.  The class members can receive a taxi voucher worth $12, which may be redeemed as taxi fare with Orange Cab.  Any class member who submits a timely and valid claim will also receive a $48 payment from the defendants.  Plaintiffs attorneys are receiving approximately $1.1 million in fees, and the named plaintiff will be awarded $7,500 as an incentive award. 

A final fairness hearing is scheduled for December 7, 2017.