Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rhino Times; N.C. Gen. Stat § 75-1.1: Unfair & Deceptive Trade Practices Under North Carolina Law

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"Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are declared unlawful.

Any party claiming to be exempt from the provisions of this section shall have the burden of proof with respect to such claim.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-1.1 is one of the most important causes of action under North Carolina law as it allows for treble damages and attorneys' fees under certain circumstances. From the outset, it should be noted courts have applied this statute liberally.

Creating a private cause of action for consumers was the Act’s primary purpose.

Also, the statute was enacted “to provide a civil means to maintain ethical standards of dealings between persons engaged in business and the consuming public” within North Carolina because “other legal remedies were inadequate or ineffective.”

It applies to dealings between buyers and sellers at all levels of commerce.

Under the North Carolina statute, both individuals, through a private cause of action, and the State, through the Attorney General, can raise a claim for unfair and deceptive trade practices.

A claim under this statute requires proof of three elements: (1) an unfair or deceptive act or practice; (2) in or affecting commerce; (3) which proximately caused the injury to the claimant.


A practice is unfair when it offends established public policy or when the act or practice is “immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous, or substantially injurious to consumers.”

Coliseum Ad.

A party is guilty of an unfair act or practice when it engages in conduct which amounts to an inequitable assertion of its power or position.

For an act or practice to be deceptive it must have “the capacity or tendency to deceive” but proof of actual deception is not required.

Deliberate acts of deceit or bad faith do not have to be shown, rather, the claimant must demonstrate that the act or practice possessed the tendency and capacity to mislead or created the likelihood of deception.

There is no requirement of a contractual relationship between the parties.

A claimant must prove that a defendant’s unfair or deceptive acts were the cause of the injuries the claimant incurred.

When a plaintiff’s reliance is the causal link between violative conduct and the damages he has occurred, the reliance need not be “reasonable.”[46] An exception to the no reliance requirement is when an unfair or deceptive claim is based upon an alleged misrepresentation by a defendant. The plaintiff must show actual reliance on the alleged misrepresentation in order to establish that the alleged misrepresentation proximately caused plaintiff’s injury."
City of Greensboro taxpayers appear to pay Roy Carroll's Rhino Times $720 or an equivalent per week for advertisements for the Greensboro Coliseum.
"Intentionally and Knowingly Making False Statements: Torrance v. AS&L Motors, Ltd., 119 N.C. App. 552, 459 S.E.2d 67 (1995).

A used car salesman told potential buyers a specific car had not been involved in an accident when asked by the buyers, even though the seller knew that statement was false. The buyer then relied on the statement that the car had never been in an accident and purchased the car. Because the car salesman knowingly lied to the buyers about the car’s accident history, the act was unfair or deceptive under the statute."
"State business laws prohibit practices considered "deceptive" to consumers. These banned actions include rolling back the odometer on a used car or using false advertising to sell a product."