Illinois Consumer Fraud Act
The Illinois Deceptive Business Practices and Consumer Fraud Act (“Act”) was passed to ensure that businesses could not take advantage of consumers through fraudulent, deceptive, or unfair business practices. Examples of prohibited practices include misstatements of present and future facts, omissions of material fact, and a business practice that is against public policy or profoundly unfair to consumers. The Act has several features to achieve its purpose of protecting consumers and ridding Illinois of such business practices including allowing consumers to sue as a class action and providing for fee-shifting.
The Act provides for class action lawsuits because class actions are a highly valuable tool for helping consumers vindicate their rights. Class action lawsuits are filed against a person or entity who has been unjustly enriched at the expense of consumers who have fallen victim to fraudulent or unfair business practices.
The class action device serves many purposes. First, it allows many consumers with small claims to pursue their claims jointly. Second, it allows consumers to pursue the claims of victims who either don’t know they have been a victim of consumer fraud or are unwilling to pursue a claim individually for such a small amount. Third, it provides a way of divesting businesses that rip off many consumers in small amounts of their ill-gotten gains. Finally, the class action device prevents courts from being overwhelmed with individual cases alleging the same harm from the same defendant for the same consumer fraud or deceptive business practice.
Often times, a class action is the only realistic means of protecting consumer’s rights. This is because the claim of each class member is fairly small in most cases. For example, if a business defrauds each customer out of fifty dollars, it is not likely someone will file a lawsuit over fifty dollars. The cost of bringing the lawsuit would far exceed the amount of recovery and few attorneys would be willing to take such a case. As a result, many perpetrators of consumer fraud would get away with their illegal acts. However, fifty dollars from each customer adds up to big profits for the business. The Act seeks to combat this by allowing consumers to join their small claims together into one suit to enforce their rights jointly. By providing for class action lawsuits, the Act protects consumer’s rights by ensuring that businesses who rip off customers even in small amounts can be held liable.
The Act also has a mechanism for leveling the playing field between consumers who often lack endless resources to litigate and large corporations who employ teams of expensive attorneys. To avoid the David versus Goliath scenario, the Act provides that the court can order businesses to pay the successful plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees and costs.
The attorneys at Nationwide Consumer Rights have decades of experience with class action lawsuits. 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 give us a call at 630-333-0000.