Have you been injured by a product or cheated in a transaction? Consumer lawsuits generally relate to the purchase of a product or service. The issue may be as simple as overcharges the company refuses to correct or may involve misleading advertising or intentional fraud. We have successfully sued banks, telecommunications providers, and major retailers, recovering thousands of dollars for our clients. The specific claims brought in consumer lawsuits vary, but there are several common ones. One of the most basic claims is a simple breach of contract claim, which alleges that the product or service was not provided according to the contractual terms. One very common claim in California consumer lawsuits—and, in fact, this claim is common in most types of civil lawsuits—is nicknamed an “unfair competition law claim.” This claim is based on California business and professions code section 17200. A plaintiff can pursue many different types of claims through California’s “unfair competition law” or “UCL,” California Business & Professions Code section 17200 et seq. A violation of the unfair competition law occurs whenever a person or entity operating a business commits an unlawful act, or a misleading, unfair, or fraudulent act. The violation may require showing that the act was done repeatedly, over a significant period of time, and in a systematic manner to the detriment of another. The UCL allows a plaintiff to file a claim based on any statute, even if the statute itself does not give a person the right to sue. “[A] private plaintiff may bring a [business and professions code section 17200] action even when ‘the conduct alleged to constitute unfair competition violates a statute for the direct enforcement of which there is no private right of action.”’ Kasky v. Nike, Inc., 27 Cal.4th 939, 950 (2002). For consumer lawsuits related specifically to the sale of goods (i.e., related to products and not services), the consumer legal remedies act can provide various forms of damages and injunctive relief pursuant to civil code section 1750 et seq. Individuals are “consumers” if they bought one or more of the products at issue. As consumers, they are entitled under California law to enforce both written and implied warranties. Federal law has similar provisions. For instance, a consumer of goods suing under California’s consumer legal remedies act can also sue under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2310 et seq., if the seller made false representations in writing.
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