Deceptive Business Practices
In New York, General Business Law section 349 (NY GBL Sec. 349) bars deceptive business practices in the conduct of any business, trade, or commerce. The law is broadly construed and applies to many economic activities. The law empowers consumers and gives them an even playing field in their disputes with businesses that are generally in a superior position. According to the Court of Appeals of New York, the highest court in the state, NY GBL 349 has three elements: 1) the act or practice was consumer-oriented; 2) the act or practice was misleading in a material respect; and 3) the plaintiff was injured as a result of the deceptive act or practice. In a deceptive business practice case, the plaintiff does not need to prove that the defendant intended to mislead the plaintiff.
A claim for deceptive business practices can result in multiple avenues of recovery for a plaintiff and increased civil and criminal liability for a defendant. The statute permits recovery of up to three times the plaintiff’s damages. A court may also award attorneys’ fees to persons injured by deceptive trade practices in New York. In addition, the attorney general may bring action against any individual, corporation, or association for deceptive acts or practices.
Yet, a claim against an individual and organization for deceptive business practices may be not a valid claim for the following reasons: failure of plaintiff to file suit within three years of the last deceptive act, the act or practice does not affect the public consumer, the act is not misleading, plaintiff was not injured, or the violation did not occur in New York. In addition, it is a complete defense if the act or practice complies with the rules and regulations of statutes administered by the Federal Trade Commission or any official department within the United States that governs the alleged deceptive business practice at issue.
We invite you to contact Gana Weinstein LLP to discuss whether you are a victim of deceptive business practices or if you have been sued for violating New York General Business Law. We have litigated these laws throughout the state of New York and are familiar with how to prosecute and defend these actions.