ASSEMBLY, No. 1444

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  REED GUSCIORA

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Assemblyman  PARKER SPACE

District 24 (Morris, Sussex and Warren)

Assemblyman  GARY R. CHIUSANO

District 24 (Morris, Sussex and Warren)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Oliver, Assemblyman Chivukula and Assemblywoman McHose

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Eliminates award of attorneys' fees, filing fees and costs of suit for technical violation of the consumer fraud act.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning the awarding of attorneys' fees in certain 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) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, attorneys' fees, filing fees, and reasonable costs of suit shall not be awarded for a technical violation of P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.).

     (2)   For the purposes of this section, “technical violation” means any violation where the person held in violation made a good faith effort to comply with P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.) and the resulting violation did not:

     (a)   impact the quality of the product or service provided; or

     (b)   result in an ascertainable loss to the consumer.

“Technical violation” shall not be construed to include a second or subsequent violation of the same, or any similar, provision of P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.) provided the person has been notified of the original violation and has had reasonable time and opportunity to rectify any subsequent violations of the same or similar nature.

     (3)   Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to in any way prevent attorneys’ fees, filing fess, and reasonable costs of suit from being awarded in any action under this section brought by the Attorney General, including for any violation determined to be a technical violation.

(cf:  P.L.1997, c.359, s.1)

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.


STATEMENT

 

     This bill eliminates the award of attorneys’ fees, filing fees, and costs of suit in cases of technical violations under the Consumer Fraud Act.

     Under the Consumer Fraud Act, an individual who suffers an ascertainable loss of money or property as a result of another person's violation is entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees, filing fees, and costs of suit.  Further, the State's courts have held that if a person can establish a violation of the act's accompanying regulations, that person is entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees, filing fees and reasonable costs of suit, even if there were no damages resulting from the violation.

     This bill specifies that attorneys' fees, filing fees, and costs of suit are not to be awarded for a technical violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.  The bill defines a technical violation as one in which the person held in violation made a good faith effort to comply with the provisions of the Consumer Fraud Act and the resulting violation did not impact the quality of the product or service provided or result in an ascertainable loss to the consumer.  Under the bill, technical violations do not include a second or subsequent violations of the same or similar nature, provided the person has been notified of the original violation and has had reasonable time and opportunity to rectify others.

     The bill also clarifies that its provisions in no way prevent attorneys’ fees, filing fess, and reasonable costs of suit from being awarded in suits brought by the Attorney General, regardless of whether they are for technical violations.