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I Think That A Business Has Taken Advantage of Me, Is There Anything I Can Do? – New York’s Consumer Protection Laws – N.Y. GBL § 349 & N.Y. GBL § 350

By February 29, 2016 No Comments

INTRO

If you believe that business has taken advantage of you then you may have a cause of action against that business! New York State, like many others, has enacted laws to protect consumers against predatory and/or deceptive business practices.  In New York, businesses are held to a high standard when dealing with consumers.

THE LAWS

N.Y. GBL § 349

New York General Business Law § 349 aka N.Y. GBL § 349: protects consumers against a business’s deceptive acts and unlawful practices. Section (a) of GBL § 349 states that “Deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or in the furnishing of any service in this state are hereby declared unlawful.” Although, the law seems to be pretty straight forward there have been many cases and court opinions defining GBL § 349.

According to Stutman v. Chemical Bank, 95 N.Y.2d 24, 29 (N.Y. 2000), In order to prevail on a claim for a Violation of N.Y. G.B.L. § 349, a Plaintiff must establish: (a) that the Defendant’s act was consumer oriented; (b) that the Defendant’s act was misleading, and (c) that the Plaintiff was injured as a result.

N.Y. GBL § 350

New York General Business Law § 350 aka N.Y. GBL § 350 prevents business from using false advertising. GBL § 350 states that: “False advertising in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or in the furnishing of any service in this state is hereby declared unlawful.” According to GBL § 350  “The term ‘false advertising’ means advertising, including labeling, of a commodity, or of the kind, character terms or conditions of any employment opportunity if such advertising is misleading in a material respect.”

In order to prevail on a claim for a Violation of N.Y. G.B.L. § 350, a Plaintiff must establish: (a) that the Defendant’s advertisement was consumer oriented; (b) that the Defendant’s advertisement was misleading in a material respect; (c) Plaintiff was injured, and; (d) Plaintiff relied on the misleading advertisement.

What Does This Mean For You?

As discussed above New York’s consumer protection laws were enacted to protect consumers and deceitful business practices and false advertising. If you believe that you have fallen victim to such unlawful business practices you could be entitled to damages and attorney’s fees.

Under GBL § 349 the Court may increase the damages if a defendant/business willfully or knowingly violated GBL § 349. Additionally, the Court may award reasonable attorney’s fees to prevailing plaintiff under GBL  § 349(h).

Under GBL § 350 Court may increase the award of damages to an amount up to three times the actual damages up to $10,000, if the defendant/business willfully or knowingly violated the this section. Additionally, the Court may award reasonable attorney’s fees to prevailing plaintiff according to N.Y. GBL § 350(e).

CONCLUSION

New York State takes consumer protection very seriously and if you think that a business has taken advantage of you there are remedies available to you and an experienced attorney can help you determine whether or not you have a cause of action under New York General Business Law § 349 and/or New York General Business Law § 349.