Large companies often have an unfair advantage in their dealings with consumers, and some take advantage of that imbalance to cheat consumers, cut corners and provide inferior or defective products, and conduct business in other ways that harm consumers. California law helps to level the playing field by providing remedies for consumers who are deceived or otherwise harmed through fraud, defective products, and certain other actions.
The California Legal Remedies Act
The California Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) is one of the most powerful pieces of legislation protecting California consumers. The CLRA prohibits a long list of specific behaviors in the sale of or attempt to sell goods and services in California, and provides consumers harmed by those behaviors with a wide range of possible remedies. Some of the prohibited behaviors include:
- A variety of deceptive representations, such as:
- The source of the goods or services
- The standard or quality of the good or services
- The geographic origin of goods or services
- Advertising goods or services intending not to sell them as advertised, or not to meet demand
- Including unconscionable terms in the contract
The statute also places limitations on very specific business transactions, such as the home solicitation of home equity loans for senior citizens and the involvement of home improvement contractors in the negotiation of loan terms. Unlike some consumer protection statutes, the CLRA provides significant remedies for consumers, including:
- Actual damages
- Injunction of the actions addressed in the suit
- Restitution of property
- Punitive damages
- Any other relief the court decides is appropriate
The statute also specifically provides for class actions on behalf of all consumers who have been similarly harmed.
While the CLRA provides remedies for specifically-listed types of misrepresentation in the sale of goods and services, California law also provides a general cause of action for deceit or intentional fraud.
Product Liability Claims
When a consumer is injured in a car accident, trip and fall accident, or other personal injury situation, the injured party generally must prove that someone else was negligent in order to recover damages. Product liability is different. In most cases, the manufacturer, seller, and everyone in the chain between is “strictly liable” for damage done by a defective product. That means the injured person doesn’t have to show that the manufacturer, seller, or anyone else was negligent.
All he or she has to prove is that:
- The product was used as intended, or in a reasonably foreseeable way
- The product was defective when it left the defendant’s possession, and
- The defective product caused the injuries or damages
There are three different ways a product can be defective under the law:
- A manufacturing defect
- A design defect
- Failure to provide adequate instructions or warnings
Despite the strict liability law, product liability cases can be complicated. Establishing that a product was defectively designed or manufactured often requires expert witnesses with specific technical or scientific knowledge. When you work with an experienced California product liability law firm, your attorney can take the lead in identifying and securing the assistance of qualified experts.
Talk to a California Consumer Protection Attorney
Whether you’ve fallen victim to dishonest business practices or been harmed by a defective product, your next step should be to consult an attorney who is experienced in protecting consumer rights. You can get started right now by calling (818) 914-3433 to schedule your free consultation.