Friday, April 17, 2009

That's not fair!

Plaintiffs can file suit under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act for conduct that was neither fraudulent nor deceptive.

A plaintiff may allege that conduct is "unfair" under the Act without alleging that it was deceptive according to the ruling out of the First District in Demitro v. GMAC. In that case, plaintiff bought a Chevy Suburban for nearly $40,000. His payments were$742.18 per month. Not surprisingly, he couldn't afford it. He became delinquent nearly $2,200. He contacted GMAC. They wrote him a letter giving him seven days to come current. During that seven day period, he wrote a check to pay off his balance, but it bounced, so his truck was repossessed.

GMAC sold the truck to pay off the balance. Plaintiff sued alleging that it was unfair that his truck was repossessed during that seven day time period. (Incidentally, he never paid off his delinquency. He claimed that his check bounced because he couldn't get to the credit union to deposit funds to cover his check because his truck was repossessed.)

In any event, the court agreed that GMAC's conduct was unfair. In determining whether conduct is unfair, courts consider whether the practice offends public policy, whether it is oppressive, and whether it causes consumers substantial injury. All three criteria do not need to be satisfied to support a finding unfairness. A practice may be unfair because of the degree to which it meets one of the criteria or because to a lesser extent it meets all three.

Plaintiff was awarded $7,560 in compensatory damages, $53,101 in attorneys' fees, and $1,151 in costs.


Unknown said...

$53,101 in attorneys' fees? Whoa.

Peter C. Bastianen said...

What a joke . . . totally ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Timothy- The attorney took a unique approach suing under fraud and deception, when it was neither and won, so I think the client got his money's worth. It is not easy to beat out GMAC attorneys.