Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kentucky Consumer Protection Act

The full statutory text of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act (KCPA) can be found at Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) Chapter 367, sections 367.110 to 367.360. 

The statement of Legislative intent is contained in KRS section 367.120:
"The General Assembly finds that the public health, welfare and interest require a strong and effective consumer protection program to protect the public interest and the well-being of both the consumer public and the ethical sellers of goods and services;  toward this end, a Consumers' Advisory Council and a Division of Consumer Protection of the Department of Law are hereby created for the purpose of aiding in the development of preventive and remedial consumer protection programs and enforcing consumer protection statutes."
Kentucky's Consumer Protection Act provides that “unfair, false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful.”  KRS 367.170(1).

KRS 367.220(1) authorizes private civil actions to "recover actual damages" suffered "as a result of the use ... of a method, act or practice declared unlawful by KRS 367.170."

A significant piece of this statute is the provision in KRS 367.220(3) for attorney's fees.
"In any action brought by a person under this section, the court may award, to the prevailing party, in addition to the relief provided in this section, reasonable attorney's fees and costs."
As attorney A. Nicholas Naiser points out:
"Accordingly, while plaintiffs’ attorneys should always consider the KCPA before filing a complaint because of the potential for attorneys’ fees, it is important to research judicial interpretations of the KCPA to ensure that such a claim is viable."Kentucky Tort Law Blog, What is the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act?
It must be pointed out that this attorney fee provision is a two-edged sword. Since there is no guarantee of ultimately being the "prevailing party," the person filing the lawsuit could end up being the one who pays the other side's legal fees.