Consumer Law Disputes
You Need To Know
Terrell Hogan’s practice of consumer protection law includes advocating for consumers who have been the victims of unlawful business practices such as: unsafe or defective products (unsafe medical devices, defective drugs, product liability, class actions), and the bad faith denial of a valid insurance claim.
A “Consumer” or “Buyer” is defined as “one who buys, uses, maintains and disposes of products and/or services.” Consumer Protection law arose in response to the old adage “Let the Buyer Beware.” This legal area encompasses a large body of laws enacted by the government, both Federal and State, to protect consumers by regulating many business transactions and practices. These laws have been created on both the state and federal level. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was originally established to prevent unfair methods of competition in commerce: however, after 1938, its scope grew to include consumer protection law oversight. Most states, including Florida, have established some type of consumer protection agency. In Florida, agencies that provide consumer protection include the Attorney General, the Florida Department of Financial Services, and the Department of Consumer Services.
Federal and Florida laws that address and provide consumer protection include:
- The Magnuson-Moss Act of 1973 deals with standards for product warranties, both implied and express.
- The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), also referred to as the federal Truth in Lending Act, regulates the credit industry with respect to consumer rights, which includes credit card companies and credit reporting agencies, as well as loan sharks and wage garnishment.
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates credit reporting agencies and those who use them.
- The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was added to the CCPA in 1978 to abolish abusive collection practices and give consumers a means to dispute inaccurate debt information.
- The Fair Credit Billing Act was added to the CCPA in 1975 to deal with billing practices in credit accounts.
- The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, which was signed into law in 1998.
- The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act (FDUTPA), also called the mini– FTC Act , was passed in 1973.
- Most new consumer products are covered by a warranty. A warranty, also called a guarantee, is a promise about the quality of goods or services that you have bought. A warranty gives you legal rights if something you purchased fails to live up to what you were promised. There are two types of warranties: implied and expressed.
All products come with implied warranties unless the seller or manufacturer has “disclaimed” the implied warranty. There are two types of implied warranties: the implied warranty of merchantability and the implied warranty of fitness. Virtually every consumer product you buy comes with an implied warranty of merchantability. This is a promise that a new item will work if you use it for a reasonably expected purpose. For used items, the warranty of merchantability is a promise that the product will work as expected, given its age and condition. The implied warranty of fitness applies when you buy an item with a specific purpose in mind. If you relate your specific needs to the seller and the seller assists you in selecting the item, the implied warranty of fitness assures you that the item will meet this need. Sellers sometimes try to avoid implied warranties by selling a product “As Is.” Implied warranties can not be disclaimed when there is an express written warranty that comes with the product. Further, in order to effectively void an implied warranty; however, the seller must follow state law requirements.
Some products come with an express warranty, which can be written or oral. An express warranty guarantees that a product is of a certain quality or will work in a certain way or for a certain period of time. Examples of express warranties are: “This product is warranted against defects in materials or workmanship” or “We will repair or replace parts that are defective in materials or workmanship” for X amount of time. Most express warranties are made by the manufacturer or are included in the sales contract that you sign with the seller. However, an express warranty may also be a statement in an advertisement or on a sign in the store or an oral description of a product’s features that you rely on in making your purchasing decision.