CT leads the way in ensuring business fairness.


Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act turns 50 this month, and it’s worth celebrating.

CUTPA fundamentally changed the relationship between consumers and businesses, and promoted fair competition within and between the business community. The law was enacted by the Connecticut Legislature in 1973. It was designed, and indeed has been, for the past 50 years as a protection against bad business practices. CUTPA sets forth a broad remedial framework not only to preserve remedies available at common law, but also to create additional grounds for characterizing conduct as unfair and/or deceptive.

While nearly every state has some form of unfair business practices, Connecticut’s is one of the more progressive. The main reason is that CUTPA relies on the so-called “cigarette law” to define what behavior can be considered unfair. (Connecticut is one of 16 states to do so.)

(1) This rule is broad and malleable, allowing for recovery from the defendant if the conduct violates public policy. (2) is immoral, immoral, oppressive or immoral; and/or (3) cause substantial harm to consumers (or competitors). All three criteria need not be satisfied to support a finding of unfairness. An exercise may be fair because it meets one of the criteria or, to some extent, meets all three. CUTPA allows claims by one business competitor against another, and does not require a showing of consumer injury. Many states, in contrast, require plaintiffs to prove consumer harm and do not allow recovery under the first two aspects of the cigarette statutes, significantly narrowing the reach of those statutes.

CUTPA provides party-wide remedies woven into the fabric of Connecticut’s legal protections. Under this statute, a successful plaintiff may recover compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees, litigation costs, and injunctive relief.

Currently, more than 95 other Connecticut statutes clearly state that a violation of that statute is a violation of CUTPA. Some examples include the Home Improvement Contractors Act, the Connecticut Unfair Sales Practices Act, and the Lemon Law. That is, a violation of the Lemon Law is a violation of CUTPA.

There is a growing body of law that states that a violation of a fundamental law constitutes a violation of CUTPA, even if it is not expressly stated in the statute. One example is where our courts have held that a violation of the Lanham Act is a violation of CUTPA regarding trademark infringement, which allows the prevailing party in a trademark case to easily recover attorneys’ fees and costs.

An interesting aspect of CUTPA is that it is constantly evolving with time to address the unique challenges presented by new technologies and changing societal conditions. In the year A 2019 Connecticut Supreme Court decision (Soto v. Bushmaster Fireworks International LLC, 331 Conn. 53) is an example of this evolution. Soto brought up the property managers, dealers and vendors of the elementary students and teachers killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. They said the defendants’ advertising promotes gun violence. For the first time, the court ruled that the plaintiffs did not have a direct business relationship with the defendant – they were not customers or competitors of the gun manufacturers. By applying CUTPA to a gun violence case, the Court appears to have opened the door to broader applications of this law to deal with other future challenges.

On the anniversary of CUTPA, we must welcome this piece of legislation that has worked as intended. Our business community and consumers are better for it.

Attorney David A. Slossberg heads the commercial litigation practice at Hurwitz, Sagarin, Slossberg & Knuff. He is the author of the definitive article on unfair trade practices in Connecticut. He can be reached at dslossberg@hssklaw.com or 203-877-8000.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *