The California Consumers Legal Remedies Act protects consumers from false advertising, fraud, and other unfair business practices. The law allows consumers to bring individual or class action lawsuits to recover damages and to stop the unlawful practices.
Examples of unfair and deceptive practices:
- “Passing off” goods or services as those of another,
- Selling used goods as new,
- Knowingly recommending unnecessary replacement or repair of goods,
- “Robocalling” non-customers, and
- Making false or misleading statements about someone else’s products.1
Remedies for violation of the CLRA can include:
- The consumer’s actual monetary damages,
- A court order enjoining (prohibiting) the unfair practices,
- Restitution of property,
- Punitive damages,
- Recovery of attorney’s fees,
- Injunctive relief, and
- Any other relief that the court deems proper.2
To help you better understand the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, our California personal injury lawyers discuss, below:
- 1. What practices are prohibited under California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act?
- 2. Who can sue for violation of the CLRA?
- 3. What are the remedies for violation of the CLRA?
- 4. Are the parties to a consumer lawsuit entitled to attorney’s fees?
- 5. How long do people have to sue under the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act?
You may also wish to read our article on California’s “Unfair Competition Law.”
California Civil Code 1770 (a) lists almost two dozen unfair and deceptive acts of consumer fraud. The prohibited practices include:
- Passing off goods or services as those of another.
- Misrepresenting the source of goods or services.
- Misrepresentation of a professional affiliation or endorsement.
- Using deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin.
- Representing that used or reconditioned goods are original or new.
- Representing that goods or services are of a particular quality or grade if they are of another.
- Disparaging the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representation of fact.
- Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised.
- Advertising goods or services with intent not to supply reasonably expectable demand, unless the advertisement discloses a limitation of quantity.
- Advertising furniture without clearly indicating that it is unassembled if that is the case.
- Representing that a part, replacement, or repair service is needed when it is not.
- Misrepresenting the authority of a salesperson, representative, or agent to negotiate the final terms of a transaction with a consumer;
- Disseminating an unsolicited prerecorded message by telephone (“robo-calling”) without identifying the caller, unless the person receiving the call is already a customer or the caller is trying to collect a legitimate debt; and
- Soliciting a senior citizen at home for improvements that require a loan which encumbers the senior’s primary residence.
Any consumer who has suffered damage as a result of an act prohibited by the Consumers Legal Remedies Act can bring suit.3 Both individual lawsuits and class actions are possible.4
California Civil Code section 1780(a) sets forth the remedies for violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act.
Under Civil Code 1780(a), consumers injured by deceptive or unfair practices may be entitled to recover:
- Actual damages,
- An order enjoining such methods, acts, or practices,
- Restitution of property,
- Punitive damages, and
- Any other relief that the court deems proper.
Senior citizens and disabled consumers may get an additional award of damages of up to $5,000 if they have suffered substantial physical, emotional, or economic damage as the result of the defendant’s conduct. And treble damages are available for victims charged unreasonable fees for assistance in securing public social services.
Note that the court will not award damages if the defendant:
- Proves that violation of the CLRA was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error; and
- Makes an appropriate correction, repair or replacement or other remedy of the goods and/or services.5
The court may award court costs and attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff.
A prevailing defendant may recover attorney’s fees only if the court finds that plaintiff’s lawsuit was not in good faith.
The statute of limitations to sue for a cause of action under the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act is three years from the commission of the unfair practice.6
However, 30 days or more before filing a lawsuit for damages, the consumer must notify the potential defendant via certified mail and ask the business to correct, repair, replace or otherwise rectify the goods or services alleged to be in violation of the CLRA.
Upon receipt of the notice, the business will then have 30 days to remedy the situation or agree to do so (and then actually do it) within a reasonable time. The business must also within a reasonable time cease to engage in the unfair or deceptive practices.7
Disclaimer: Past results do not guarantee future results.
- California Civil Code 1770; California Civil Code 1750 et seq.
- Civil Code 1780(a).
- For class action requirements, see Civil Code 1781. See also Massachusetts Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 1282. See also Meyer v. Sprint Spectrum L.P., (California Supreme Court, 2009) 45 Cal. 4th 634, 200 P.3d 295.
- Civil Code 1784; see also California’s Unfair Competition Law – California Business and Professions Code sections 17200 – 17209 (“UCL”).
- Civil Code 1783.
- Civ. Code 1782.