Pizza chain sued over what customers say were illegal text ads

SEATTLE -- A class action lawsuit has been filed against Papa John's Pizza, alleging the pizza chain harvested customers' cell phone numbers and illegally blasted them with text ads.

The suit, which was certified in federal court, sends a strong message that could cost Papa John's $250 million, privacy expert Linda Criddle said.

"The act of ordering a pizza does not give any sort of consent, not an explicit or implicit consent that the person is interested in having unsolicited advertising sent to them," Criddle said.

According to an attorney with Papa John's corporate office, a couple years ago, some of its franchises worked through a messaging service to send the mass text blasts. It asked the franchises to stop, writing in court documents: "The practice and process of sending unsolicited messages to mobile devices is most likely illegal."

Yet, Tuesday, the lawyer told KOMO News the suit has "no merit" and the corporation will continue to "aggressively" fight it.

If the class action lawsuit continues, it could lead to the largest settlement of its kind.