For the past few years, retailers have been confronted with a tidal wave of litigation alleging that their websites are inaccessible in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Indeed, in 2018 alone, one analysis determined that there were at least 2,258 web accessibility cases filed in federal court, a 177 percent increase from the previous year. Of these cases, a total of 1,564—over 69 percent—were filed in New York federal courts by just a handful of lawyers, including Jeffrey Gottlieb, Bradley Marks, C.K. Lee, Joseph Mizrahi, Jonathan Shalom and Doug Lipsky, with a surge following two unsuccessful motions to dismiss in cases involving Five Guys and Blick Art.
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On August 7, 2017, the FTC announced that it obtained a court order temporarily halting an online marketing scheme that deceptively lured shoppers into expensive negative option plans. The FTC alleged that defendants used initial low-cost trial offers to hook consumers into expensive monthly shipments without properly disclosing the terms and conditions of the deal or properly obtaining their consent.
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Over the past few months, a new trend has emerged that has ramifications for virtually every participant in the online retail space: a rise in the number of class action claims challenging allegedly excessive shipping and handling fees. Regardless whether an online retailer offers flat or incremental fees, standard and expedited options, or free shipping with returns-only fees, few are immune from claims that the fees charged do not align perfectly with retailers’ underlying shipping costs.
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The first blow to the recent expansive application of the New Jersey TCCWNA was struck by a federal court in California last month. In Candelario v. Rip Curl, Inc., the Central District of California granted a motion to dismiss a complaint alleging a TCCWNA violation of website terms and conditions because the plaintiff lacked Article III standing.
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TCCWNA. The very acronym evokes head scratches and sighs of angst and frustration among many in the retail industry. The New Jersey Truth-in-Consumer Contract Warranty and Notice Act was passed in 1981 to protect consumers from allegedly deceptive practices in consumer contracts, warranties, notices and signs. Continue reading for an in-depth view of the TCCWNA and what retailers can do to minimize risk.
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