Wrecking Ball Disguised as Law Reform: ALEC's Model Act on Private Enforcement of Consumer Protection Statutes

33 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2014 Last revised: 18 Sep 2015

See all articles by Dee Pridgen

Dee Pridgen

University of Wyoming College of Law

Date Written: September 17, 2015

Abstract

The consumer protection statutes of every state are currently under attack by a proposed model law that would effectively eliminate the critical private enforcement provisions that give these laws their power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has produced a purported law reform vehicle that is actually a wrecking ball to destroy one of the building blocks of consumer protection, namely the private enforcement of state unfair and deceptive practices acts. It does this by systematically weakening each and every provision of these laws, such as lower burdens of proof, special damages, and attorney’s fees, that were designed to provide consumers with access to justice for small economic wrongs. This article examines the history and goals of the state consumer protection statutes, with their private enforcement mechanisms, and then demonstrates how the ALEC model act would undermine these goals. The article also critically examines certain research studies that claim to demonstrate abuses of the current laws. The article concludes that while the statutes in question could perhaps benefit from some limited reforms, the ALEC proposal is an ill-conceived attempt to effectively repeal the private enforcement of state consumer protection statutes.

Keywords: Consumer, Consumer Protection, State Consumer Protection Statutes, ALEC model law, state unfair and decpeptive practives acts, private attorneys general, private enforcement of consumer law

JEL Classification: K12, K20

Suggested Citation

Pridgen, Dee, Wrecking Ball Disguised as Law Reform: ALEC's Model Act on Private Enforcement of Consumer Protection Statutes (September 17, 2015). New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 39, No. 2, page 279, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2426381

Dee Pridgen (Contact Author)

University of Wyoming College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 3035
Laramie, WY 82071
United States

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