Caveat Auctor: Surge in Consumer Class Actions Under New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act

The Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act, N.J.S.A. 56:12-14 to -18 (TCCWNA) was enacted in 1982 but has historically been under-utilized by plaintiffs until recently. In the past year alone, approximately 40 class actions have been filed alleging violations of TCCWNA against businesses such as Wal-Mart, Target, J. Crew, Burlington Coat Factory, TOYS ‘R’ US, Bed Bath & Beyond, Johnston & Murphy, Whirlpool and the New Jersey Devils. TCCWNA’s all-encompassing scope covers almost every form of written consumer contract, warranty, notice, advertisement or sign – from restaurant menus to in-store displays to website terms and conditions of use – that is displayed, offered or entered into with a consumer or potential consumer. And the statute carries a mandatory, strict-liability penalty of at least $100 per violation which, for businesses with substantial customer contacts, can rapidly reach into the millions or tens of millions of dollars.

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