Stopping abuse of the Consumer Fraud Act? NJLRA
Stopping abuse of the Consumer Fraud Act?
ONLY 13% OF SURVEYED RESPONDENTS THINK IT IS HIGHLY LIKELY THEY WILL BE SUED IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS.
Many of the proponents of the changes to the Consumer Fraud Act say that there has been an abuse by the person bringing the lawsuits. Whenever I hear these arguments and I see partial examples I am very skeptical. As an example, in the case of the spilled cup of coffee that garnered so much attention many years ago, almost no one knew the real set of facts that resulted in the verdict. There are so many safeguards built into the system that whenever I hear these examples I say let me hear all of the facts and only then we can conclude whether there was some sort of miscarriage of justice and "lawsuit abuse."
In criminal cases we have heard many times of innocent people being found guilty by a jury of their peers and we NEVER suggest that the criminal justice system should be thrown out. Most of the time the system works. Sometimes it does not, but it is a very good system watched by very talented people.
So when some groups, such as the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, make statements that surveys state this and that, and this case and that case were an injustice, you need to look very closely at each example and determine for yourself if it seems like a complete and accurate example.
66% of those surveyed say that it is not very likely, or highly unlikely, that they will be sued in the next 5 YEARS. Of the remaining 33% of respondents, ONLY 13% thought it was highly likely that they would be sued in the next 5 years.
So, based on one survey, that places only 13% of businesses "highly" likely to be sued in the next 5 years, yet they want to change the Consumer Fraud Act.
WHAT EXACTLY IS ABUSIVE LITIGATION?
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE THEY HAVE USED:
A car dealership was sued for a $40 overcharge on registration that was done "by accident" and the customer did not have to ask for a refund before taking the business to court. Is this really abusive litigation? Well, let's look at the supposed facts.
It is my understanding that the case was a class action, which means the dealership "accidentally" overcharged thousands of customers for many years and had KEPT the money rather than returning the money voluntarily. The dealer took the position that they should have been asked to return the overcharges by each of the thousands of customers before they could be sued. So the position was, in essence, we can rip you off, or even thousands of people, and when we get caught, we have to be asked to return the money that was wrongfully taken, BEFORE there can be a civil lawsuit.
Is this good public policy to encourage poor, AT BEST, conduct, and then simply require return of the funds? Is this really lawsuit abuse? No, it is not! It's the business abuse of the system. Most businesses do not overchagre at all, and when they do they return the money.