2002-05-11 / Community

Pheffer Backs Class Action Suits

Pheffer Backs Class Action Suits

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer, chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection, has sponsored legislation, A.11124, to allow consumers who allege antitrust violations the option of proceeding as class action lawsuits.

The history of the antitrust law reflects the desire of the legislature toprotect consumers from price fixing, overcharges and other effects of monopolies and to enable them to seek damages if appropriate. The Attorney General may bring antitrust lawsuits as class actions and private suits may be brought individually. This legislation extends class action remedies to private suits.

In 1999, legislation provided for a private right of action where a claim rose from a purchase made indirectly, i.e., through a middleman.  Recently, the New York County Supreme Court dismissed two class action suits brought pursuant to section 340 of the general business law holding that a class action will survive only when a statute specifically provides for it. The Legislature is meeting that requirement.

When introducing the legislation, the Assemblywoman stated that, "broadening the methods of righting the wrong will better utilize resources and reduce the costs of litigation. This will serve both the legal system and the consumer."

This legislation passed the Assembly and now awaits Senate action.

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