The California Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”) protects consumers from false advertising and other unfair business practices. Set forth in Civil Code 1750 and subsequent sections, the CLRA allows consumers to bring individual or California class action lawsuits to recover damages and enjoin the prohibited practices.
Examples of unfair business practices prohibited by the Consumers Legal Remedies Act include:
- “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, and
- Any other relief which 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.
- Misrepresenting 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 which the court deems proper.
Senior citizens and disabled consumers may be awarded additional damages of up to $5,000 if they have suffered substantial physical, emotional, or economic damage as the result of the defendant’s conduct.
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 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 deception practices.7
- California Civil Code 1770.
- Civil Code 1780(a).
- For class action requirements, see Civil Code 1781.
- Civil Code 1784.
- Civil Code 1783.
- Civil Code 1782.