US marketing firm may face a multimillion-dollar fine for sending unsolicited commercial messages, with its clients staring at astronomical damages if new legal action is successful.

A group of activists from California has filed suits at state and federal courts, alleging that violated federal law by sending millions of marketing faxes to personal and business machines.

The plaintiffs have requested that the suit be granted class action status and are seeking damages of $500-plus per fax from advertisers that hired the agency to send unsolicited ads. Total damages sought are said to be in the region of $2,200 billion (€2,239bn; £1,432bn).

The agency has dismissed the legal action, branding it “unfounded and absurd”. It argues it has a constitutional right to send such faxes.

However, the Federal Communications Commission does not seem to agree, having warned the company it could be fined $5.38 million for unsolicited commercial faxing – the largest ever penalty for such an offence.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff