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Don’t send Atlanta attorney Marc B. Hershovitz an unsolicited fax. Each page costs him up to 25 cents, but it could cost the sender up to $1,500 in damages. Hershovitz said he settled about six cases for between $500 and $1,500 after receiving just one unsolicited fax. Now, after 14 such faxes from them, he’s going after Staff Counsel Inc., a local recruiting firm, for what he called theft of his toner and fax paper. Hershovitz filed suit against Staff Counsel last week. He’s asking for $21,000 in damages, or $1,500 for each unsolicited Staff Counsel advertisement. Hershovitz v. Staff Counsel, No. 02VS030147 (Fult. St. Mar. 15, 2002). Michael K. Jablonski, Hershovitz’s attorney, said his client has never had a business relationship with Staff Counsel nor has he ever requested information from them. Staff Counsel violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Hershovitz said, which entitles the recipient of unsolicited, faxed advertisements to as much as $1,500 in damages for each fax. Senders of unsolicited faxes, Hershovitz argued, engage in “cost-shifting advertising” by stealing the fax recipient’s toner and paper for their own advertising purposes. Hershovitz estimated that each page received by his fax machine costs him between 5 cents and 25 cents. After Hershovitz received the first advertisement from Staff Counsel, he sent a letter to the owner of the company, Mara S. Sacks, demanding $1,500 in treble damages. Sacks never replied, he said. Hershovitz is fed up with bearing advertising costs for other companies, he said. Staff Counsel’s unsolicited faxes amount to “stealing, plain and simple,” he said. “The goal is to stop this practice not only by Staff Counsel but by all firms,” Hershovitz added. Staff Counsel continued faxing Hershovitz after his demand letter, he said, making its conduct “much more abhorrent.” Hershovitz received a 14th fax from Staff Counsel on Feb. 17. It included an advertisement for a $999 database of Georgia attorneys that would enable buyers to mass-fax more than 29,000 attorneys. Sacks was out of town and could not be reached for comment. Hershovitz and Jablonski teamed up in 2000 for a suit against Atlanta radio station 99X. They represented two plaintiffs who said the station, using an automatic dialing device, left unwelcome and illegal computer-dialed telephone messages at their homes. The plaintiffs sued Susquehanna Radio Corp., 99X’s parent company, saying the rock station’s telephone promotion violated state and federal law. Garver v. Susquehanna Radio Corp., No. 00VS002168 (Fult. St. Feb. 18, 2000). Hershovitz said his clients won on several issues, but the defense prevailed on the argument that 99X had an established business relationship with the plaintiffs. The case is on appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

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