The judicial system was not designed with business regulation in mind. Nevertheless, over the past few years New Jersey businesses have faced an increasing number of regulatory-based lawsuits, many of them quite frivolous in nature. These lawsuits are not being brought by the government, but by private attorneys empowered to enforce obscure business regulations on the government’s behalf.
Here are some examples of the sort of weird regulatory-based lawsuits New Jersey businesses face.
- Font size. Did you know that the expiration date on a gift card has to be printed in at least 10 point font? This is just one of many font size requirements in New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act which can serve as the basis of a lawsuit.
- The definition of “household furniture.” NJCJI is currently involved with a case where the question the court must decide is whether “household furniture” includes hardwood flooring. Seriously.
- Not displaying certain licenses or signs conspicuously enough. You better not have décor that is too distracting, or you could get hit with a lawsuit for not displaying government-mandated licenses and signs conspicuously enough.
- The half-baked, fresh-baked lawsuit. A New Jersey court recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs who insisted that bread baked in the store could not be advertised as “fresh baked.”
Our intention in creating this list is not to inspire litigation, but to spur discussion. At our September 18 conference, we’ll be having a dialogue about the policy reasons for and against private, regulatory-based enforcement litigation with Senator Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex) and Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris). We’ll then take a look at how to defend against this sort of litigation. If you are interested in joining the conversation, click here to register now, or can call our office at 609-392-6557 and register by phone.
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