Assemblyman CRAIG J. COUGHLIN
District 19 (Middlesex)
Assemblywoman McHose and Assemblyman Space
Revises individual cause of action under consumer fraud act; restricts consumer fraud act to New Jersey residents.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning actions for consumer fraud, amending P.L.1971, c.247 and supplementing P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.).
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] consumer 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] may, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award up to threefold the actual damages sustained by [any person in interest] the consumer. 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. As used in this section, “consumer” means an individual who purchases, leases or rents merchandise, as defined in section 1 of P.L.1960, c.39 (C56:8-1), for personal, family, or household purposes, or a business with annual revenue of less than $10,000,000.
(cf: P.L.1997, c.359, s.1)
2. (New section) The provisions of P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.) shall:
a. apply only to New Jersey residents, and transactions that take place in the State; and
b. not apply to actions or transactions otherwise permitted or regulated by the Federal Trade Commission or any other regulatory body or officer acting under statutory authority of this State or of the United States.
3. This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to actions filed on or after the effective date.
This bill makes various revisions to the New Jersey consumer fraud act.
The bill provides that the individual cause of action provided under the consumer fraud act is available to individuals who purchase, lease or rent merchandise for personal, family, or household purposes or businesses with annual revenue of less than $10,000,000.
Under current law, when a violation of the consumer fraud act is found to have occurred, the court is required to award threefold the damages sustained by any person in interest and attorneys’ fees, filing fees and reasonable costs. This bill gives the court discretion in awarding damages, which would not be permitted to exceed threefold the actual damages sustained by the consumer.
In addition, the bill provides that the consumer fraud act applies only to New Jersey residents and transactions that take place within the State. The bill also provides that the consumer fraud act would not apply to actions or transactions otherwise permitted or regulated by the Federal Trade Commission or any other regulatory body or officer acting under statutory authority of this State or of the United States.