October 29th, 2015|
The 11th Circuit Court recently ruled that private plaintiffs are allowed to pursue class action lawsuits under the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) in federal court. The victory for consumers dealt a blow to big business interests who had attempted to prevent consumers from accessing the courts so that they could continue business as usual. The ruling in favor of consumers has raised concerns by businesses that have operated in Alabama with impunity. Their concerns can be seen in this article posted by the Business Counsel of Alabama, where Alabama big businesses acknowledge that the efforts of Cory Watson Attorneys has “effectively changed Alabama law” in favor of consumers. This case opens the door to the court house allowing consumers an opportunity to seek compensation when they have been cheated by deceptive business practices, but helps legitimate business who would otherwise have to compete against cheaters. Without barring consumers from pursuing class action lawsuits against companies hiding behind the ADTPA in Alabama, big businesses can be held accountable for deceptive business practices.
The precedent was set in Lisk v. Lumber One Wood Preserving, LLC. Lumber One sold fencing to wholesalers who in turn sold it to consumers with a promise the wooden fencing would last 15 years. A customer whose fencing rotted after three years sought compensation, claiming Lumber One knew the lumber was not properly treated and would not last. The federal trial court, in Alabama, denied the plaintiff’s claim and sided with Lumber One, citing that a class action lawsuit is not allowed under the ADTPA under Alabama law. The plaintiff then appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit which overturned the federal trial court’s ruling, thus allowing consumers to pursue class action lawsuits in federal court. In doing so, the 11th Circuit sided with the Constitution holding that while the Alabama Legislature can regulate what happens in Alabama state courts, the Legislature has no power to regulate federal courts, that is left to Congress.
If you have been a victim of deceptive trade practices, you may have more rights than you think. Call Jerome Tapley or Ryan Lutz at 205-328-2200 to discuss your options.