Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1600843
 
 

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Are State Consumer Protection Acts Really Little-FTC Acts?


Henry N. Butler


George Mason University School of Law

Joshua D. Wright


Federal Trade Commission; George Mason University School of Law

May 5, 2010

Florida Law Review, Vol. 63, No. 1, pp. 163-192, January 2011
Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 10-11
George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 10-45

Abstract:     
State Consumer Protection Acts (CPAs) were designed to supplement the Federal Trade Commission’s mission of protecting consumers and are often referred to as “little-FTC Acts.” There is growing concern that enforcement under these acts is not only qualitatively different than FTC enforcement, but may be counterproductive for consumers. This article examines a sample of CPA claims and compares them to the FTC standard. It identifies qualitative differences between CPA and FTC claims by commissioning a “Shadow Federal Trade Commission” of experts in consumer protection. The study finds that many CPA claims include conduct that would not be illegal under the FTC standards and that most of the cases with illegal conduct would not warrant FTC enforcement. Even among CPA cases where the plaintiff prevailed, nearly half do not include illegal conduct under the FTC standard and most of the cases with illegal conduct would not invoke FTC enforcement. The results clearly suggest private litigation under little-FTC Acts tends to pursue a different consumer protection mission than the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 31

Keywords: administrative expertise, business regulation, causes of action, common law limitations, deceptive practices, fraud, market forces, National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, Posner, printer’s ink laws, Ralph Nader, remedies, statute of frauds, UDTPA, unfair, warranty disclaimers

JEL Classification: D18, K20, K29

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Date posted: May 6, 2010 ; Last revised: January 9, 2011

Suggested Citation

Butler, Henry N. and Wright, Joshua D., Are State Consumer Protection Acts Really Little-FTC Acts? (May 5, 2010). Florida Law Review, Vol. 63, No. 1, pp. 163-192, January 2011 ; Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 10-11; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 10-45. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1600843

Contact Information

Henry N. Butler (Contact Author)
George Mason University School of Law ( email )
3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8644 (Phone)
Joshua D. Wright
Federal Trade Commission ( email )
601 New Jersey Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20580
United States
George Mason University School of Law ( email )
3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
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