Assemblymen Respond to Bosland vs. Warnock Dodge
Some of you may recall the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision in Bosland v. Warnock Dodge, where the Court found that a consumer has no duty to first request a refund of an alleged overcharge before filing suit under the NJ Consumer Fraud Act (CFA). NJLRA had filed an amicus brief in this case on behalf of the defendant, Warnock Dodge.
As some readers may know, the CFA in New Jersey requires guilty parties to pay treble damages and attorney's fees. Of course, innocent parties still must shell out for their own attorneys' fees, even for minor cases.
In the case of Rhonda Bosland, she alleged that Warnock Dodge overcharged her for Motor Vehicle Commission fees on a car sale by less than $100. While most of us would simply drag ourselves down to the dealer and ask for our money back, Ms. Bosland filed suit as her first resort. The Court reasoned that this is appropriate, citing a concern that in large fraud situations a business could refund only the money of the people who speak up and continue to defraud the majority of consumers.
The problem with this is that it leaves innocent retailers who make honest billing mistakes open to abusive lawsuits. The decision addresses the lowest common denominator, at the expense of the vast majority of businesses in the state.
Not surprisingly some, including NJLRA, disagree with the Court's reasoning. Assemblymen Michael Patrick Carroll and Rick Merkt also found the Court's decision flawed and have introduced legislation (A3929) that "requires aggrieved persons to request refund prior to commencing suit under consumer fraud law under certain circumstances."
NJLRA will follow this bill closely and keep you posted.