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Current Consumer Protection Cases 

Settled Consumer Protection Cases

Consumer Awareness

There is an increasing expectation that consumers will research companies and their products prior to purchase. However, when companies misrepresent the characteristics, contents, or qualities of a products, research will do a consumer little good.

We have all felt the empty feeling of disappointment when a newly purchased product fails to perform in the way it should. Even worse, when you discover that a product you regularly use is actually harmful. Back in the 1940's and 50's, U.S. companies praised asbestos as the miracle product that was both effective insolation and was nearly impossible to burn. Years later, court documents revealed that many asbestos manufacturers and suppliers knew of and concealed the health risks their products posed to the detriment of millions of Americans.

Today, product misrepresentations continue to plague consumers. Misrepresentations often arise when companies try to make a quick buck or to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors. This type of behavior is illegal and you can help punish offenders simply by being a savvy consumer.

What Does the Law Say?

  • In Washington, DC:
    • It's illegal to "represent that goods or services have a source, sponsorship, approval, certification, accessories, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not have.” D.C. Code § 28-3904.
  • In New York:
    • "Deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or in the furnishing of any service in this state are hereby declared unlawful." N.Y. General Business Law § 349.
    • "False advertising in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or in the furnishing of any service in this state is hereby declared unlawful." N.Y. General Business Law § 350.
      • "'false advertising' means advertising, including labeling, of a commodity, or of the kind, character … if such advertising is misleading in a material respect." N.Y. General Business Law  § 350-A. 

Think Critically, Be Aware

  • You may not even know you are being deceived. Product misrepresentation can occur when a company claims its product will have specific effects, contains a substance, or contains a specific amount of a substance.
  • Examples of Common Misrepresentations
    1. The label on Product A advertises it contains 10% Ginseng, when in fact;
      1. Product A only contains 1% Ginseng; or
      2. Product A doesn't contain Ginseng at all.
    2. The label on Product B advertises it contains 800mg of Sodium when in fact;
      1. Product B contains 2500mg of sodium.
    3. The label on Product C advertises it's made with 95% post-consumer recycled material;
      1. Product C only contains 10% post-consumer recycled material.

Product Watch 

  • Food & Drink
    • Perdue Chicken
    • Allen Harim "Nature's Selection" humanely raised chicken
    • HonesTea
  • Vitamins & Supplements
    • Centrum Multivitamin/Multimineral Flavor Burst Mixed Fruit Chewables
    • Amp Energy
    • Mio Energy
    • EAS Protein Shakes
    • Lipton Green Tea
  • Characteristics of Labor Practices
    • Nike
  • Characteristics of Environmental Consciousness 

 

Consumer fraud laws, which exist in all fifty states, regulate the way businesses can advertise, market and sell their products and services to consumers. Generally, these laws broadly prohibit deception in dealing with consumers. Deceptive acts include bait and switch schemes - where one product or service is offered but another actually delivered; false advertising; high-pressure sales tactics; the use of form contracts and fine print to mislead consumers; excessive fees and interest and promising illusory benefits. Whitfield Bryson & Mason has successfully represented consumers in a wide range of consumer protection class actions.