State Anti-Spam Law Addressed in Kramer v. Perez

By FindLaw Staff on February 19, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Kramer v. Perez, No. 08-3841, plaintiff sued claiming that defendants and their company sent millions of spam e-mails to plaintiff's business in violation of Iowa's anti-spam statute.  After a bench trial, the district court held defendants jointly and severally liable for over $236 million in statutory damages.  Defendant, Suzanne Bartok, one of the individuals held liable, appealed.

As the court of appeals wrote: "the district court held Perez and Bartok jointly and severally liable to Kramer for over $236 million in statutory damages-$10 per spam e-mail transmitted under the anti-spam statute's private cause of action."

The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that the district court incorrectly interpreted and applied Iowa's anti-spam statute to hold defendant jointly and severally liable. Specifically:

"We believe that section 714E.1(2) is plain and its meaning is clear. As discussed above, to violate this section, a person must use an "interactive computer service" to "initiate the sending" of spam e-mail."

However, "[s]ince there is no evidence that Bartok ever used an interactive computer service to initiate the sending of spam, Bartok cannot be held liable for violating section 714E.1(2)."

Further, "Bartok cannot be held liable under section 714E.1 for civil conspiracy and/or aiding and abetting because the statute's text creates no such liability" and she also "cannot be liable under Iowa common law civil conspiracy and/or aiding and abetting theories because [plaintiff] did not prove the actual damages elements necessary to prevail under such claims."

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