ANTI-CONSUMER LEGISLATION IS COMING SOON TO YOU HERE IN NEW JERSEY
The New Jersey Assembly and the Senate have introduced bills that would permanently and prohibitively make New Jersey an anti-consumer forum and roll back years of consumer protection laws which have accumulated benefits for thousands, if not millions, of New Jersey consumers.
A3333 which has been introduced into the State Assembly and parallel introduction of S2538 into the State Senate are anti-consumer and significantly reduce consumers’ rights in the State of New Jersey.
These bills destroy consumer protections which have been established through the years by both the legislature and the court. Initially, there is a very good chance that the interpretation of these new laws will prohibit any and all lawsuits and exempt car dealerships from the protection of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
CAR DEALERS WILL NOW BE PROTECTED
The provision of the bill which would arguably protect car dealerships and most businesses from the reach of the Consumer Fraud Act would be an exemption for businesses which are already regulated, such as the Federal Trade Commission, Division of Banking and Insurance, or other administrative agencies. Since car dealerships are arguably regulated by the Division of Banking and Insurance, the Division of Motor Vehicles, and arguably come within the reach of the Federal Trade Commission, they would argue that they are exempted from legislation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act since they are already extensively regulated.
This provision will take away the private right of action or, in similar terms, the right for a consumer to sue a car dealership if they are ripped off or subject to deceptive practices. This applies to advertising, finance fraud and used car dealership fraud. This would arguably repeal extensive legislation which has already been established and set forth by the legislature and the assembly. This is just one provision of the new law which would affect New Jersey consumers.
There would also be an abolishment of the mandatory triple damages and it would be at the discretion of the trial judge. This is not set forth with any particularity so as to provide a trial judge with any guidance as to how to triple the damages. However, nonetheless, the changes in the Consumer Fraud Act would encourage fraudulent and deceptive conduct rather than discourage fraudulent and deceptive conduct.
Businesses which are hardworking and honest would be forced to change their mode of operation due to the lowered standard and low cost entry for deceptive businesses.
If two car dealerships were on the same street and one car dealership was using deceptive acts and practices to sell cars and exempted from the Consumer Fraud Act, the honest and hardworking dealership would be forced to do the same. Would this be considered a fair leveling of the field and evening of the competition? I think not. This is a foolish legislation, blatantly anti-consumer, and would help no one.