The New Jersey Supreme Court has just announced that it will answer the following certified questions about New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA):
Is a consumer who receives a contract that does not comply with the Delivery of Household Furniture and Furnishings Regulations (Furniture Delivery Regulations), N.J.A.C. 13:45A-5, but has not suffered any adverse consequences from the noncompliance, an “aggrieved consumer” under the Truth-in-Consumer Contract Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA), N.J.S.A. 56:12-17; and, does a violation of the Furniture Delivery Regulations alone constitute a violation of a clearly established right or responsibility of the seller under the TCCWNA and thus provide a basis for relief under the TCCWNA?
The court’s answer will provide clarity not only to the Third Circuit, which is looking for guidance as it decides the cases David Spade v. Select Comfort Corp. and Christopher Wenger v. Bob’s Discount Furniture, LLC, but to everyone.
Clarifying what the terms “aggrieved consumer” and “clearly established legal right” mean will go a long way toward ensuring that this statute does what it was designed to do, protect consumers, without being a tool that attorneys can use to troll for lawsuits against well-meaning businesses.
NJCJI has filed amicus briefs in several Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA) lawsuits, and has been following other cases quite closely. Below is an update on the cases we’re involved with and info on some other notable cases. Continue reading
The New Jersey Supreme Court has released its opinion in a long-running lawsuit over the acne medicine Accutane. Instead of throwing out the case as time-barred like NJCJI suggested it do, the Court adopted a new test for determining what statute of limitations should apply in case brought by an out-of-state plaintiff.
“It’s disappointing the Court decided to go in this direction,” said NJCJI chief counsel Alida Kass. “It is very likely that plaintiffs whose claims are time-barred in other states will now try to bring their lawsuits here. As the opinion’s author noted during oral arguments, plaintiffs are attracted to our courts because they like our evidence rules and our expert witness rules, so I guess we should now add our statute of limitations to that list. It really distorts the policy choices that have been made by the New Jersey legislature.”
Click here to read the court’s full opinion in McCarrell v. Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. and Roche Laboratories Inc.
The American Tort Reform Association has released its annual “Judicial Hellholes” report, and New Jersey is near the top of its list. ATRA notes that our state’s consumer protection laws are far from mainstream, and our court system is becoming hostile to arbitration agreements, in direct contravention of federal law.
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising that ATRA has identified us as a ‘Hellhole,’” said Marcus Rayner, the president of the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute. “Our courts have issued some opinions that are really out of the mainstream in a few key areas – namely consumer protection and arbitration – and people in the business community, now even at the national level, are taking note.”
“The arbitration-related decisions the report highlights are really concerning. The New Jersey Supreme Court has weakened the right to arbitrate in New Jersey, in direct violation of federal law, despite the fact that arbitration is faster, cheaper, and just as fair as going to court. This is especially true when you consider the alternative to arbitration is often class action litigation, where the biggest beneficiary is the attorney bringing the case,” said Rayner.
“When it comes to consumer protection, we’ve been saying for years that New Jersey needs to enact some common sense reforms to bring our law more into the mainstream. Our main consumer protection laws, the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) and the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA), aren’t giving consumers appreciably better customer experiences, but they are inspiring lots of litigation. For example, CFA litigation increased 447% from 2000 to 2009, but there’s no evidence there was more actual fraud to fight during that period,” said Rayner.
“We need to take concrete steps to right our course and improve our state’s legal climate before it’s too late. We have a list of 11 legal issues New Jersey should tackle if it wants to improve its reputation and economic outlook,” concluded Rayner.
The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute has filed an amicus brief in a class action brought by consumers who claim a restaurant’s failure to clearly post prices in the menu on all drink items violates New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) and Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act (TCCWNA). NJCJI has been spearheading the effort to reform both the Consumer Fraud Act and the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act, so we are very interested in what the court will do with this case and a similar case where the court will decide whether “charging different prices for the same beverage, depending upon where in the restaurant the beverage was served” can be the basis of a CFA and TCCWNA class action. Continue reading
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of October 15-21.
NJ Time Limits Should Apply To Accutane Case, Justices Told
Jeannie O’Sullivan | Law360
The attorney for an Accutane user seeking to reinstate his $25 million jury verdict over the acne drug’s adverse effects urged the New Jersey Supreme Court on Thursday to apply the state’s statute of limitations rules to the case, emphasizing the Garden State’s role as a “vanguard” of pharmaceutical law.
Justices Hear Arguments in $25 Million Accutane Verdict Appeal
Michael Booth | New Jersey Law Journal
Lawyers argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court Thursday over whether an appeals court erred in overturning a $25 million verdict against a pharmaceutical company because the plaintiff violated the statute of limitations in the state where he lives.
Fighting Website Suit, Vita-Mix Points To Similar Dismissal
Cara Salvatore | Law360
Hertz Wins Toss Of Rewards Program Pricing Class Action
Jeannie O’Sullivan | Law360
The Hertz Corporation on Thursday ducked a class action alleging it failed to specify if a pricing provision in its Gold Plus rewards program applies in New Jersey, with a federal judge invoking the Supreme Court’s Spokeo standard by ruling the customer leading the suit failed to prove he was injured by the omission.
Follow @NJCivilJustice on Twitter for even more news.
The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute has filed an amicus brief in two cases related to the price of drinks on menus. The cases, Dugan v. TGI Friday’s, Inc. and Bozzi v. OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC (which was not a written opinion in the lower court) are both class actions brought by consumers who claim the restaurant’s failure to clearly post prices on all drink items violates New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) and Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act (TCCWNA).
NJCJI has been spearheading the effort to reform both the Consumer Fraud Act and the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act, so we are very interested in what the court will do with these cases.
The court has asked the following question in both cases:
“Is class certification appropriate in this action where plaintiffs allege that defendant violated the Consumer Fraud Act (N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 to -184) and the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act (N.J.S.A. 56:12-14 to -18) by failing to include drink prices on its menu?”
In the Dugan case, the court will also determine whether “charging different prices for the same beverage, depending upon where in the restaurant the beverage was served” can be the basis of a CFA and TCCWNA class action.
If you would like to support our CFA or TCCWNA reform efforts, please contact NJCJI’s chief counsel, Alida Kass.
The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute thanks Gavin Rooney of Lowenstein Sandler for his work on this case on NJCJI’s behalf.
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of September 24-30. Continue reading
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of August 6-12. Continue reading
Insured businesses and carriers alike have been operating in a gray area when it comes to determining who is liable for damages resulting from a subcontractor’s faulty workmanship, but a unanimous opinion by the New Jersey Supreme Court has brought clarity to this area of law. Continue reading