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Enacted over three decades ago, New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act, N.J.S.A. 56:12-14 to -18 (TCCWNA), sat largely unnoticed by the plaintiffs bar until recently. But in the past couple of years, scores of putative class actions have been filed alleging violations of TCCWNA against a broad array of businesses such as Wal-Mart, Target, J. Crew, Select Comfort, Burlington Coat Factory, Toys “R” Us, Bed Bath & Beyond, TGI Friday’s, Johnston & Murphy, Whirlpool, and Bob’s Discount Furniture. TCCWNA’s broad reach has been found to encompass nearly every form of written consumer contract, warranty, notice, advertisement or sign that is displayed, offered, or entered into with a consumer or potential consumer—from restaurant menus to in-store displays to website terms and conditions of use. And the statute’s penalty of at least $100 per violation, coupled with its fee-shifting ­provision, makes it attractive for the class-action bar and dangerous for ­businesses with substantial customer contacts, since alleged damages could rapidly rise into the millions or tens of millions of dollars. Whether it’s a brick-and-mortar retailer in New Jersey or an internet business marketing to New Jersey consumers, TCCWNA could be a pricey trap for unwary enterprises. New Jersey state and federal courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and courts elsewhere are grappling with novel issues arising under TCCWNA, and potentially important decisions are pending.

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