Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Catch-All Provision of UTPCPL Provides for Strict Liability

In the case of Gregg v Ameriprise Fin., Inc., No.29WAP2019 (Pa. Feb 17, 2021), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a Majority Opinion written by Justice David N. Wecht, ruled that the catch-all provision of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law provided for a strict liability cause of action. 

The court noted that the plain language of the statute imposes liability on commercial vendors who engage in conduct that has the potential to deceive and which creates a likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding. The Court found that the legislature did not require either carelessness or intent when a cause of action is based upon an allegation of deceptive conduct.

As such, the Court ruled that, under the plain meaning of the statute, deceptive conduct during a consumer transaction that creates a likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding and upon which the consumer relies to his or her financial detriment, does not depend upon the actor’s state of mind. The Court found that, without a state of mind requirement, the catch-all provision of the statute may be fairly characterized as describing a strict liability offense.

The dissenting Justices would have created a negligence standard on this issue.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of the Majority’s Opinion in this case may click this LINK. The Dissenting Opinion may be viewed HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney Lee Applebaum of the Philadelphia law firm of Fineman Krekstein & Harris, as well as the writer of the excellent Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bad Faith Case Law Blog for bringing this decision to my attention.

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