A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of September 19-25.
Lisa Ryan | Law360
General counsels are bracing to once again spend more on defending against class actions, after the number of companies facing at least one of these major suits rose sharply from 53.8 percent in 2014 to 60.6 percent this year.
One of the things that struck a chord with attendees of our recent legal reform conference was our discussion of class actions that are filed in the wake of government enforcement actions. Under these circumstances, companies end up taking a double hit – first from government regulators, and then from plaintiffs’ attorneys acting under the cloak of consumer protection. Hastily filed consumer class actions can compromise the government’s ability to effectively regulate, and often provide only marginal additional benefits to consumers, yet they are increasingly common. In just the past few days, news broke that two such cases have been filed in New Jersey shortly after high-profile government enforcement actions were announced.
Lisa Anne R. Bicocchi | Inside Counsel
While sellers seem to be familiar with the danger of being sued by a New Jersey consumer under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq. (the CFA), many sellers are woefully unaware of the far greater danger for potential exposure under the New Jersey Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA), N.J.S.A. 56:12-14, et seq. While traditionally the CFA has been a favorite go-to for plaintiffs and their counsel because of the availability of treble damages and attorney’s fees and costs to successful litigants, businesses would be wise to take heed of the TCCWNA, which could expose them to far greater liability than the CFA. In contrast to the CFA, which requires proof of an ascertainable loss proximately caused by a seller’s deceptive conduct (see Cox v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 138 N.J. 2, 24 (1994)), the TCCWNA affords standing to consumers who have suffered no financial loss or injury of any sort, against sellers who have acted in good faith and with no intent to mislead. All that is necessary for a plaintiff to prevail under the TCCWNA is that the plaintiff prove that he or she was provided with, or even shown, a warranty, contract, sign, or notice of virtually any sort pertaining to personal, family or household merchandise that includes language that violates New Jersey or federal law in some respect.
A.J. Kritikos | Wall Street Journal Opinion
The crackdown on Uber continues in California, where the ride-sharing firm faces a lawsuit that could break the company’s peer-to-peer structure—and the rest of the “gig” economy.
Martin Bricketto | Law360
A ban on consumer fraud class actions and other such private suits when the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is cracking down on the same parties and conduct could give businesses a fairer shake, speakers suggested during a legal reform conference Friday.