Abuse of Consumer Protection Laws
Lawyers get huge fees. Consumers get coupons worth a few bucks.
That’s the story with the explosion of lawsuits under Consumer Protection Act laws.
These laws were designed to defend the rights of consumers and protect them from fraudulent business practices. When introduced, the intention was to hold businesses accountable when they seek to profit by taking advantage of a consumer’s lack of information or bargaining power.
Though they were designed to protect the public from false or misleading advertising, these laws have been widely abused and manipulated by personal injury lawyers for personal gain. Because many were written in general terms, profit-seeking personal injury lawyers have been able to take advantage of the language in businesses’ marketing and advertising materials to create frivolous lawsuits. Personal injury lawyers don’t even have to prove that consumers were actually harmed in order to file a lawsuit. If a company chooses to settle the suit rather than pay the costs of defending itself, lawyers end up taking most of the settlement dollars, leaving consumers with coupons or other small forms of payment.
We’ve seen countless examples of this lawsuit abuse – probably the most memorable case was McDonald’s hot coffee case. However, there are plenty of other ridiculous cases happening each year:
- Red Bull was sued for falsely claiming their product “gives you wings” and was forced to pay $10 to every person who bought the drink since 2002.
- Subway was sued because the bread for its “footlong” sandwiches occasionally measured 11.75 inches, even though each customer actually received the same amount of ingredients. Lawyers walked away with 99% of the settlement money.
- Chobani is being sued for the label on its “Greek Yogurt,” alleging that it is falsely advertising because the yogurt isn’t actually produced in Greece.
- In 2010, numerous brands of olive oil were sued for not meeting requirements to be called “extra virgin.”
As many of these laws don’t require proof of harm, personal injury lawyers are increasingly finding ways to create bogus lawsuits when no consumer is harmed. Everyone has an obligation to identify and avoid these abusive lawsuits by not participating in them. When our system is abused, we all pay, and we all lose.