February 2018 Consumer Fraud Update
In the month of February, progress was made around the country in affording greater consumer protection to victims of consumer fraud. Below, we discuss some of these legal updates:
Regardless Of Net Neutrality, Cable Companies Cannot Defraud Customers
A February ruling by a New York Supreme Court judge could set the tone for consumer fraud cases argued under the FCC’s new Internet Rules.
In the case, the New York Attorney General brought a consumer fraud case against Charter and Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable), alleging that the companies systematically defrauded customers by promising internet speed and access to online content that they could not deliver. Specifically, the companies allegedly relied on older generation equipment that it knew was incapable of delivering the performance it advertised and promised. According to court documents, subscribers received as little as 10 percent of the promised speed, and experienced buffering, interruptions, lags, and slowdowns, resulting in more than 2,800 consumer complaints being filed.
The cable companies moved to have the case dismissed under the FCC’s new “Restoring Internet Freedom Order,” which repealed the last administration’s net neutrality rules. However, the state supreme court rejected the argument, finding that state and local officials still have broad authority when it comes to fraud, general commercial dealings, and taxation, regardless of the FCC’s new order.
The decision is a major victory for consumers against internet and cable companies seeking to engage in dishonest practices via the repeal of the net neutrality rules. Regardless of the FCC, consumers are protected via state laws against cable operators misleading them.
Consumer Fraud Litigation Options For Victims Of Conversion Therapy?
In February, California lawmakers pushed to declare conversion therapy treatments fraudulent in order to protect consumers under the state’s consumer protection laws and allow individuals to sue practitioners. The practice has long-promised to “cure” homosexuality via cruel treatments involving electric shocks, hypnosis, and injections. Lawmakers in Florida are currently mulling similar bills to allow consumers to bring an action to recover damages.
Rental Car Companies Fined $1.85 Million for Consumer Fraud
In late February, one state court returned a $1.85 million verdict against two rental car companies, finding that they violated the state Consumer Fraud Act by charging consumers unlawful fees during rental transactions over the course of seven years. Some of the many issues found associated with the companies included promising consumers vehicles for one price, and then doubling that price after additional fees and taxes were imposed.
Nationwide Sweep of More Than 250 Defendants in Elder Fraud Cases
Also in late February, the Justice Department announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history, involving more than 250 defendants from around the world who allegedly victimized elderly Americans via financial schemes that cost more than half a billion dollars. The actions charged a variety of fraud schemes, including but not limited to investment frauds, identity theft, mass mailing, telemarketing, and theft by guardians.
Florida Consumer Protection Attorneys
At Lavalle, Brown & Ronan, P.A., we regularly represent clients who are victims of consumer fraud in commercial litigation cases here in Boca Raton, Florida and surrounding areas. Contact us today to find more about our 130-plus years of protecting consumers, and what we can do for you.