Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act
Illinois protects consumer rights through the Deceptive Business Practices and Consumer Fraud Act ("ICFA"). It allows for attorneys' fees and punitive damages to encourage attorneys to undertake small dollar claims and vindicate consumer protection in Illinois and deter businesses from engaging in unscrupulous practices in this State.
The ICFA forbids companies from using deceptive, and fraudulent representations to deceive individual consumers or from engaging in a pattern of unfair businesses practices intended to harm a substantial number of consumers such as building contractors who never intend to start construction or pest spray companies that have an established practice of failing to ever honor their customer warranties. Examples of deceptive or unfair practices prohibited by the ICFA include falsely labeling food or other products, representing re-built wrecks and flood damaged used cars as like new, charging illegal fees, and misrepresenting profit-making fees as taxes or required governmental charges. We have litigated all kinds of different consumer scams as individual claims or class action claims under the ICFA for over 35 years. The FCRA expressly prohibits making material misstatements or intentionally omitting material facts to induce a consumer to buy a product or service. The ICFA even protects businesses when they are acting as consumers.
To state a claim under the ICFA, a plaintiff must show the defendant: (i) committed a deceptive act or had a deceptive practice; (ii) intended for plaintiff to rely on its deception; (iii) that the deception occurred in the course of conduct involving trade and commerce; and (iv) that the defendant's deceptive acts were the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injury. A company commits a deceptive act when it conceals a material fact which would have caused consumers to act differently if they knew the information, or if the material fact concerns the type of information "upon which a buyer would be expected to rely in making a decision whether to purchase."
Two leading consumer fraud class action cases in Illinois are Connick and Pappas. In Connick, Suzuki developed and sold a small vehicle - the Samurai - which had a tendency to roll over. The Samurai also had inadequate protection for passengers, so when it would roll over, it posed a safety risk. The plaintiffs filed a class action against Suzuki, claiming that they were damaged by the diminution in their vehicles value due to the perceived safety risk. In reviewing whether the plaintiffs' complaint adequately stated an ICFA omission claim, the Illinois Supreme Court found that the plaintiffs had sufficiently shown that Suzuki concealed the material fact that the Samurai was prone to rolling over and did not provide adequate protection to passengers in the event of a roll over and that the plaintiffs would have acted differently had Suzuki disclosed those material facts.
In Pappas, Pella manufactured defective windows that were allegedly prematurely prone to deterioration and wood rot. The plaintiffs had purchased the windows, and after the windows deteriorated they filed a class action alleging that Pella knew of the windows' defective condition and concealed this information. In reviewing whether the plaintiffs adequately stated an ICFA omission claim, the Pappas court found that the plaintiffs had sufficiently shown that Pella concealed the defective window design which led to premature deterioration and wood rot.
Our firm has litigated and is litigating cases similar to Connick and Pappas relating to the intentional sale of products with known defects. We are also pursuing false labeling cases against food sellers and supplement makes who falsely claim their products have attributes that they do not have.
The attorneys at Lubin Austermuehle have litigated consumer fraud and consumer fraud class actions for over thirty years. They the skills and experience needed to effectively prosecute consumer fraud claims. Conveniently located in Elmhurst, Wilmette and Chicago, Illinois, we have successfully prosecuted individual and class action consumer fraud claims all over the Chicago area and around the country. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, you can contact us online or give us a call locally at 630-333-0333.