ASSEMBLY, No. 1401

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2010 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  MICHAEL PATRICK CARROLL

District 25 (Morris)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires aggrieved person to request refund prior to commencing suit under consumer fraud law under certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning certain consumer fraud actions and amending P.L.1971, c.247.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 7 of P.L.1971, c.247 (C.56:8-19) is amended to read as follows:

     7.    a.  Any person who suffers any ascertainable loss of moneys or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by another person of any method, act, or practice declared unlawful under this act or the act hereby amended and supplemented may bring an action or assert a counterclaim therefor in any court of competent jurisdiction.  In any action under this section the court shall, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award threefold the damages sustained by any person in interest.  In all actions under this section, including those brought by the Attorney General, the court shall also award reasonable attorneys' fees, filing fees and reasonable costs of suit.

     b.    (1) Prior to the commencement of an action pursuant to this section, an aggrieved person, whose ascertainable loss is $250 or less, shall first request a refund of that money.  Any request for a refund made pursuant to this paragraph shall be in writing and sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail.  No action subject to this subsection shall be brought until the 35th day following the mailing of the request for the refund.

     (2)   In an action brought pursuant to this section that is first asserted as a counterclaim, the refund requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection, if applicable, shall be satisfied if the party filing the counterclaim asserts in his pleading the nature of the counterclaim and the amount of his ascertainable loss of $250 or less.  A party who has been served with the counterclaim pleading and who disputes the ascertainable loss stated in the counterclaim may tender the full amount of the ascertainable loss to the court or to the attorney for either party to be held in escrow pending the outcome of the case, in which case neither treble damages nor attorney’s fees shall be awarded should the counterclaim prevail.

(cf:  P.L.1997, c.359, s.1)

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.


STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires that a person who suffers an ascertainable loss of money of $250 or less as a result of an unlawful act by another person must first request a refund of the money lost before commencing legal action under the consumer fraud act.  A request for a refund must be in writing and sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail.  Under the bill, no action shall be filed until the 35th day following the mailing of the request for the refund.

     In addition, an action brought pursuant to the consumer fraud act, that is first asserted in a counterclaim shall satisfy the bill’s refund requirements if the party filing the counterclaim asserts in his pleading the nature of the counterclaim and the amount of his ascertainable loss of $250 or less.  A party who has been served with the counterclaim pleading and who disputes the ascertainable loss stated in the counterclaim may tender the full amount of the ascertainable loss to the court or to the attorney for either party to be held in escrow pending the outcome of the case, in which case neither treble damages nor attorney’s fees shall be awarded should the counterclaim prevail.

     A person whose monetary loss exceeds $250 may take legal action under the consumer fraud act without first requesting a refund of his ascertainable loss of money.