Friday, July 17, 2009

No cause of action for emotional damages only.

The plaintiff in Morris v. Harvey Cycle & Camper, Inc., No. 1-07-3271, 2009 WL 1685137 (1st Dist. June 12, 2009), alleged a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, but she claimed only emotional distress, inconvenience, and aggravation as her damages. She had no actual damages. It is hard to believe this case was filed, much less appealed. But I guess I will give some credit to the plaintiff's attorneys in their attempts to expand Illinois tort law to include compensation for aggravation only. Just think how many lawsuits you would have been able to file this week alone if they would have succeeded.

Defendant's conduct did seem pretty outragous though. In that case, plaintiff's brother Shawn made a down payment on a car at defendant’s dealership with the sale contingent on financing. Shawn was allowed to use the car while defendant attempted to arrange financing. After several days, defendant’s employees called Shawn and asked him to come to the dealership to re-sign some loan papers. Plaintiff accompanied Shawn to the dealership. After they arrived, they learned that Shawn had not qualified for financing. Shawn then offered to return the car in exchange for the return of his down payment.

Plaintiff alleged that defendant’s employees then pressured her to cosign the loan so the deal could go through. When she refused, defendant’s employees started yelling at her and Shawn and blocked the car to prevent them from leaving the dealership. The employees then called the police, reporting the car as stolen. Several squad cars and police officers arrived at the scene. Defendant’s employees told the officers that plaintiff and Shawn had stolen the car. Police officers considered that a false report. Police officers then told defendant’s employees to stop trying to intimidate plaintiff and Shawn. Shawn eventually returned the car and got back his down payment.

Plaintiff alleged violation of the Consumer Fraud Act. The trial court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a cause of action. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Court found that only a person who suffers actual damages as a result of a violation of the Consumer Fraud Act may bring a private action under the Consumer Fraud Act.

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