Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices
The Illinois Deceptive Business Practices and Consumer Fraud Act ("Act") protects consumers from businesses that would try to take advantage of them through fraudulent, deceptive, or unfair business practices. Under the Act, a business can be liable for making misstatements of facts, omitting material facts, or employing an unfair business practice that is unethical, oppressive, or against public policy. The Act has several features to protect consumers and rid Illinois of deceptive or unfair business practices including allowing consumers to sue as part of a class action and providing for fee-shifting meaning an unsuccessful defendant can be forced to pay the plaintiff's attorney's fees and costs.
Class action lawsuits are a highly valuable tool for helping consumers vindicate their rights. A class action is filed by one or more persons on behalf of a group (or class) of individuals who have been harmed by a person or entity.
The class action device serves many purposes. First, it allows consumers who individually have small claims pursue recovery jointly. Second, it allows victims who don't know they have been a victim to recover. Third, it allows businesses who rip off many consumers in small amounts who normally wouldn't sue individually to be held accountable. Finally, the class action device prevents courts from being overwhelmed with individual cases alleging the same harm from the same defendant.
Sometimes a class action is the only realistic means of protecting consumer's rights because the claim of each class member is fairly small. For example, a company who includes a deceptive charge of two dollars on every customer's monthly bill may believe that it can get away with it because no one will sue over a couple of dollars. The cost of bringing such a lawsuit would far exceed the amount of damages and no attorney would be willing to take such a case. However, a company who has 100,000 customers and charges two dollars per customer per month will make big profits ripping its customers off in small amounts. The Act ensures that the high cost of litigation doesn't allow the company to continue its deceptive practice with impunity by allowing consumers to join their small claims together into one suit to enforce their rights jointly.
The Act also levels the playing field between consumers who lack endless resources and large corporations who have deep pockets to employ teams of expensive attorneys. Under the Act, the court can order a defendant to pay the attorney's fees and costs of a successful plaintiff on top of whatever other recovery the plaintiff has received.
The attorneys at DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle have litigated numerous class action lawsuits including securing a $40,000,000 settlement in the class action lawsuit of Erikson v. Ameritech which was the second highest settlement in Illinois that year. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers and have the skills and experience needed to effectively do so. Conveniently located in Oakbrook Terrace and Chicago, Illinois, we have successfully litigated class action cases for clients all over the Chicago area and around the country. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, you can email us or call us toll-free at 877-990-4990.