NAII Brief Addresses Proximate Cause Requirement of Ill. Consumer Fraud

July 10, 2003

The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) filed an amicus brief with the Illinois Supreme Court urging the court to reverse an Appellate Court opinion that broadens the scope of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act (IFCA) by eliminating its proximate cause requirement.

“The Illinois Supreme Court has repeatedly held that in order to maintain a claim under IFCA, a plaintiff must demonstrate the existence of proximate cause. This was a very important requirement under IFCA claims because it applied a set of reasonable limits to the liability of companies for alleged misrepresentations in the sale of products and services to consumers,” said Laura Kotelman, NAII counsel.

“If the ruling is permitted to stand, it could result in a dramatic increase in lawsuits and unpredictable and limitless liability for companies who engage in consumer transactions. Consumers would essentially be able to sue for damages for misrepresentations under IFCA, even when they willingly purchased the advertised product or service at the asked for price without being misled in any way,” added Kotelman.

Moreover, the Appellate Court decision in Shannon v. Boise Cascade could cause the focus of false advertising claims to shift from whether a particular consumer was misled by the alleged misrepresentation to simply whether any alleged misrepresentations were made about a product or service at any time.

Allowing such windfall recoveries by parties who were never deceived is reportedly another invitation to a flood of baseless litigation.

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