Consumer litigation focuses on the rights of individual consumers and may involve claims relating to unfair and deceptive trade practices, credit cards, privacy issues, insurance coverage, lemon laws, car fraud, car warranty, fair debt collection practices, vehicle repossession, truth in lending, and other disputes under state and federal consumer protection laws. The protections for the consumer stem from both common law and statutory schemes. This unfolding area of the law has evolved in response to the unfortunate way many large corporations have decided to treat their customers. Consumers often need competent legal counsel to stand up to abuse by massive companies concerned only with making a profit.Sometimes a common-law fraud claim will provide a sufficient remedy to consumer fraud, but Virginia has a more powerful weapon to combat fraudulent business practices in the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The VCPA, which is designed to promote fair and ethical business behavior when dealing with consumers, allows for the recovery of treble damages (in cases of willful violations) and reimbursement of attorneys' fees, greatly expanding on the potential damages award when compared with common law remedies. It prohibits numerous types of unfair business practices, including fraudulent misrepresentation, false advertising, and many other forms of consumer deception.
The Act only applies in limited situations, however, and only applies to certain types of consumers, suppliers, goods, and services. For example, the VCPA only applies to "consumer transactions," defined as (i) the advertisement, sale, lease, license or offering for sale, lease or license, of goods or services to be used primarily for personal, family or household purposes; (ii) transactions involving the advertisement, offer, or sale to an individual of a new business opportunity; (iii) transactions involving the advertisement, offer, or sale of employment-related services; (iv) certain layaway agreements; and (v) transactions involving the advertisement, sale, lease, or license, or the offering for sale, lease or license, of goods or services to a church or other religious body.
While BerlikLaw is always prepared to take a case to trial, our first priority is to pursue our clients’ objectives. In many cases our strategies have led to negotiated settlements that are cost effective and consistent with our client’s goals, eliminating the need for litigation altogether.