Warning for Businesses: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Violations of the State’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act Do Not Require IntentOn February 25, 2021 by Schnader in Financial Services Litigation
Jonathan W. Hugg and Brittany C. Wakim published a client alert, “Warning for Businesses: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Violations of the State’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act Do Not Require Intent.”
In a potential blockbuster, landscape-changing decision with widespread ramifications for companies providing goods and services to Pennsylvania consumers, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court just held that Pennsylvania’s powerful consumer protection law, the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act (“UTPCPL”), can impose liability on businesses even for unintentional violations of the statute. Fraudulent or negligent conduct is not required for a court to find a business’s conduct misleading or deceptive, and to force the business to pay damages. Rather, according to the Supreme Court, the UTPCPL has a “strict liability” standard where unintentionally confusing or misleading conduct can form the basis of a claim.
By making it far easier to prove a violation of the UTPCPL, the Supreme Court’s decision dramatically expands the risks faced by businesses selling goods or services to Pennsylvania consumers, as well as businesses headquartered in Pennsylvania selling goods or services to non-Pennsylvania consumers. The Court’s decision virtually guarantees that there will be more litigation of this kind in Pennsylvania, which, in turn, will be more difficult to defend.