California Civil Code Section 1750, the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act declares several methods of competition and deceptive or unfair acts and practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or which results in the lease or sale of goods or services to any consumer. Unfair business practices covered under the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act include inserting fine print within rebate policies and selling used products under the label of “new”.
Elements of Unfair Competition
According to CACI 4700 to establish this claim the plaintiff must be able to prove all of the following:
- Plaintiff acquired, or sought to acquire, by purchase or lease a product or service for personal, family, or household purposes
- Defendant undertook one of the prohibited actions mentioned in the California Civil Code Section 1770(a), e.g., represented the product or service had characteristics, uses, or benefits that it did not have.
- Plaintiff was harmed
- Plaintiff’s harm resulted from defendant’s conduct.
Plaintiffs harm resulted from defendant’s conduct in case he relied on the defendant’s representation. To prove reliance the plaintiff must only prove that the representation was a substantial factor in his decision. In case the defendant’s representation of fact was material, reliance can be inferred. A fact is considered material when a reasonable consumer would consider it important in deciding whether to buy or lease the service or good.
List of Prohibited Actions Under California Civil Code Section 1770(A)
California Consumer Legal Remedies Act covers a broad range of unfair business practices, with twenty four specific unscrupulous acts mentioned within the consumer protection law. Here are the most common business practices covered under CLRA statutes:
- Advertising services or products with the aim of not selling them as advertised
- Advertising furniture without including the term “unassembled” if that is the case.
- Declaring the need for part replacement or repair service when neither service is needed
- Using deceptive advertising practices or representations which make false geographic claims
- Using the term “original” or “new” when the product was reconditioned, altered, or sold secondhand
- Making misleading or false claims against the products made by someone else
- Inserting untrue provisions within a contract
Remedies for Violating CLRA Provisions
CLRA doesn’t generally permit plaintiffs to receive monetary awards, but instead, gives them a legal right to seek punitive damages, as well as the restitution of services and property. Defendants can’t recover attorney fees and in usually they pay the fees charged by plaintiff attorneys.
According to California Civil Code Section 1780(a), consumers injured by unfair or deceptive or practices can be entitled to recover:
- Actual damages
- Restitution of property
- Punitive damages
- An order enjoining such acts, methods or practices,
- Any other relief which the court considers appropriate
In case as the result of the defendant’s conduct the senior or disabled plaintiff has suffered substantial emotional, physical, or economic damage he may be awarded additional damages of up to $5,000.
The plaintiff will not be award damages in case the defendant:
- Can prove that he didn’t intentionally and willfully violate the CLRA provisions
- Makes an appropriate correction, replacement, repair other remedy of the services and goods.