Which WRECKING BALL DISGUISED AS LAW REFORM:
ALEC’S Model Act on Private Enforcement of Consumer Protection Statutes
by DEE PRIDGEN
ABSTRACT (click to download complete article)
The consumer protection statutes of every state are currently under attack
by a proposed model law that would effectively eliminate the critical private
enforcement provisions that give these laws their power. The American
Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”) has produced a purported law reform vehicle that is actually a wrecking ball to destroy one of the building blocks of consumer protection, namely the private enforcement of state unfair and deceptive practices statutes. ALEC’s proposed law does this by systematically weakening each provision of the current consumer protection laws, such as those providing for lower burdens of proof for consumer plaintiffs, special
damages, and attorney’s fees, that were designed to give consumers access to
justice for small economic wrongs. This article examines the history and goals of
the state consumer protection statutes, with their private enforcement
mechanisms. It then critiques the arguments and flawed studies put forward in
support of weakening the private right of action. Finally, in a section-by-section
analysis, the article demonstrates how the ALEC model act differs from current
law and would, if passed, undermine the original goals of these state statutes.
The article concludes that the ALEC model legislation is an ill-conceived
attempt to effectively repeal the private enforcement of state consumer
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