The Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA) is a New Jersey consumer protection law that protects consumers from signing contracts which strip away their rights to file product liability claims. The TCCWNA is strict and clear, the consumer does not need to sign the allegedly offending paperwork and there is a fine for each customer or even a potential customer who views the contract.
Recently, Avis Car Rental, Bed Bath & Beyond, the New Jersey Devils arena, Toys R Us and Intuit, were each sued in New Jersey federal court in May alleging claims that they violated the TCCWNA.
Class action plaintiffs have been awarded deserved victories by recent Third Circuit decisions in favor of consumers suing under the statute. One victory against Wynn’s Extended Care Inc. and National Casualty Co., found that the agreements improperly required customers to accept hidden arbitration provisions, which forfeited consumer rights established by law.
Another victory for consumers came from a ruling granting class certification in November against Public Storage over a leasing contract provision requiring customers to indemnify Public Storage for damages related to facility usage.
The most important decision came from a case involving a class action suit against Restaurant.com. The New Jersey Supreme Court, a three-judge panel, reversed a federal judge’s decision that the state high court’s interpretation of the TCCWNA did not apply retroactively in an e-commerce setting. This decision opened many companies up to liability based on hidden terms in many terms and conditions in consumer contracts presented over the internet.
In April, Avis Rent A Car System LLC and Avis Budget Group’s were sued in New Jersey federal court alleging that their terms and condition prevent consumers from seeking redress and putative damages in violation of the TCCWNA. The terms also allegedly attempt absolve Avis of any liability in the event of a data breach. In other words, the terms and conditions attempt to stop consumers form seeking redress if Avis fails to protect customers’ personal information. This is also a violation of New Jersey consumer law, which requires propert safeguards and notice to customers in the event of a breach.
Last month, Advanced Auto Parts was sued in a proposed class action alleging the auto parts retailer of using terms and conditions on its website that forced consumers to release their tort and negligence claims in violation of New Jersey law under the TCCWNA. These terms and conditions are alleged to prevent consumers from using their right to seek damages under the New Jersey law and allow companies to illegally contract their way out of state enforced laws.
The TWCCNA seeks to protect consumers and forces companies to treat the consumer fairly under the law.