New Jersey bill A-4292 passed in the state senate in July 2018. It is currently in the hands of the New Jersey Assembly. If this bill becomes a law, it would essentially make it harder for victims of shady car deals to receive triple damages from the car dealer. Not only that, but it would slash attorneys’ fees in auto fraud cases, along with those brought by the state attorney general.
The Consumer Fraud Act (CFA)
Currently, under the CFA, plaintiffs can receive as much as three times the damages awarded by the judge or jury. This acts (in theory) as a deterrent to dishonest businesses because they are constantly under the watchful eye of the law. If they toe the line or cross it, they could be paying an exceptionally high amount in return. Moreover, under the CFA, attorneys can receive a portion of the damages. The attorney general can bring cases against corrupt businesses as well.
Bill A-4292 Will Take Away the CFA’s Teeth Against Car Dealers
Bill A-4292 in its current form would take away your right to sue a car dealership for triple the damages. That means there is less of a deterrent for shady car dealers to take advantage of unwary customers because they are not under the threat of paying exorbitant damages to their victims. This bill will shield car dealers from the law and punishment and make them less liable to their victims.
Additionally, auto fraud attorneys are paid from the damages that their clients win from a case. Bill A-4292 in its current form would slash the amount that attorneys are paid, making these cases less economically feasible for both the lawyer to take and for the plaintiff to pay. In other words, if the bill passes, clients who couldn’t afford a lawyer, but would have been able to if the lawyer won their case, would no longer be able to afford quality legal representation. A skilled attorney will enforce the law, protect the victim, and ensure dishonest businesses are held accountable.
What is most alarming about it is that it only protects car dealers specifically. In other words, it’s an industry-specific bill that suggests that there was lobbying involved in writing the bill. Unsurprisingly, car dealers are fully backing it in its current form. Lawmakers have said that in its current form, the bill won’t pass and will need to be rewritten. However, consumers still need to be on high alert for the next draft and what that will look like.
What You Can Do
You can see the bill in its current form here and see for yourself what’s in it. We urge you to be vigilant about Bill A-4292 and to contact your local legislator by clicking here. You can click on the button under Action Alert!. You can send a pre-written message to send to your legislator.
At Lucid Law, we will not stand by as legislators try to take away your rights as a consumer. Call us at (908) 350-7505 today if you need experienced and trustworthy legal representation in New Jersey!