Please note that, in light of Governor Murphy's recent "stay at home" order in New Jersey due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC's attorneys and staff are working remotely at this time. However, we are still ready, willing, and able to address all of your individual and business legal needs. Please contact us by phone at (973) 890-0004 or email at info@esqnj.com. We are committed to providing the same high level of legal services that our clients have come to expect over the years. Thank you.

Articles Posted in Consumer Protection

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The need to file bankruptcy can come quickly and abruptly due to a serious life event such as a serious medical diagnosis that results in large medical bills or being terminated or laid off from a job that results in a loss of income.  Many individuals have experienced this as a result of the Coronavirus (COV-19), which has caused these individuals to feel as though they are “drowning in debt.”

If an individual or family is in a position where they are significant debt and cannot pay their bills, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be an appropriate step to get them a “fresh start” financially.

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The Order

On Saturday, March 21, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order Number 107, which further tightened restrictions on people and businesses in response to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.  This Executive Order superseded all previous Executive Orders on Coronavirus responses.

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New Jersey has been trying to legalize sports betting for years. One of the primary hurdles for that legalization has been the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).  That law, enacted by Congress in 1992, make it unlawful for a government entity to authorize, operate, etc., gambling on competitive games in which athletes participate.  PASPA – also known as the Bradley Act – excluded Oregon, Delaware, Montana, and Nevada from its sports betting prohibitions. New Jersey (and any other state which had licensed casino gambling) had a 1-year window to pass laws permitting sports betting.  However, New Jersey did not pass such a law within that window of time.

Later, in 2011, New Jersey voters approved an amendment to the state constitution to permit the legislature to create laws to permit sports gambling. (Sports gambling would still not be permitted for college sporting events taking place in the State of New Jersey or involving a New Jersey team.)

In 2012 the first Sports Wagering Act was introduced to permit betting on sports at racetracks and casinos.  That Act was challenged by virtually all major sports associations (NFL, MLB, NHL, etc.) and ultimately struck down by the District Court as violating PASPA.

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Representing Homeowners in Defending Construction Lien Claimsconstruction

Our New Jersey construction attorneys represent homeowners who, through no fault of their own, have construction liens (called “mechanics liens” in years past) filed against their property.

Typical Scenarios Where Homeowners Get it Trouble

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Virtually every business in New Jersey is regulated in some way, shape, or form. Accounting firms are regulated by the Department of Law & Public Safety and regulations require accounting firms to have certified public accountants. Home improvement contractors are often required to be registered with the Department of Labor and Department of Treasury. Health clubs are required to register and issue a security bond with the Department of Law and Public Safety. Restaurants are regulated by local health departments. However, businesses which involve the transportation, storage, or disposal of solid waste are some of the most regulated and highly scrutinized businesses in the State of New Jersey.

Solid waste haulers or transporters are regulated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”), Division of Solid Waste Management and/or the Division of Solid & Hazardous Waste Management.

However, first, for tax and liability purposes, a business will generally form a company or business entity (such as a corporation or limited liability company). In doing this, the company will likely file for a Certificate of Formation and a request a FEIN (or Federal Employer Identification Number).

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McLaughlin & Nardi’s New Jersey construction attorneys recently completed a construction arbitration in the American Arbitration Association.  After hearing the evidence, the arbitrator awarded our clients $289,918.  Maurice McLaughlin was the lead trial attorney.  He was assisted throughout by Pauline Young and Robert Chewning, who second chaired the hearings.

Background

The case involved Essex County homeowners who had contracted for extensive renovations to their kitchen.  The total cost of the kitchen renovations was $152,725.  The homeowners paid $126,362.50.  However, the contractor never completed the job.

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depositphotos_5503419-Ecological-transport-metaphor-lemon-and-wheels.jpgPurchasing a new car is a major financial investment. Consumers incur high costs to purchase a vehicle and even higher costs to repair defects. Understanding the economic impact, New Jersey’s Legislature passed the New Jersey Lemon Law Act. The law is one of the strongest, most comprehensive, and effective in the country. It protects consumers who purchase or lease vehicles that are defective.

The New Jersey Lemon Law covers all new vehicles that develop a defect during the first two years of ownership or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. The law covers new passenger cars, trucks, motorcycles, and certain authorized emergency vehicles purchased, leased, or registered in the State of New Jersey. Commercial vehicles are not covered.

The law requires manufacturers to repair reported defects within a reasonable time. The law also provides for remedies to consumers whose vehicles are not repaired and the defect impairs the use, value, or safety of the new vehicle. The law, however, does not vehicle defects which are the results of an accident, abuse, vandalism, or wear and tear. Also, the law does not cover defects caused by repair or modification to a vehicle by a person other than the manufacturer or car dealer.

Defects should be immediately reported to the dealer. Consumers should keep copies of all receipts for repairs and record mileage as well as the repair work completed. Dealers are permitted a reasonable amount of time to make repairs to correct a defect.
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The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act was enacted in 1975 to govern written warranties on consumer products. Oral warranties are not covered by the Act. Commercial warranties are not covered by this Act. Warranties on services are not covered by the Act. Instead, the Act was enacted to require the manufactures and sellers of consumer products to give consumers detailed information regarding warranty coverage, and to require sellers to live up to their warranties.

The Act does not require that a warranty be provided. However, if a warranty is provided it must be clearly written and easy to understand. The warranty must be designated as either “full” or “limited” and readily available for inspection.

Further, if a warranty is provided, the Act serves many useful purposes. First, it allows consumers to get complete information about warranty terms and conditions. The Act also enables consumers to compare warranty coverage before buying a consumer good. Additionally, the Act ensures warranty competition by allowing consumers to be able to pick a product, based on a combination of the price, features, and warranty. Finally, the Acts provides incentives for companies to perform on their warranty obligations in a timely and through manner and to resolve disputes without delay and expense to the consumer.

The Act protects consumers in many ways. First, the Act prohibits the disclaimer of implied warranties when a written warranty is offered. This means that consumers will always receive an implied warranty of merchantability regardless of how broad or narrow the written warranty is. An implied warranty can only be limited to the duration of the written warranty. For example, if a written warranty is limited to one year, then the implied warranty can be also limited to a year.
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Antitrust laws in the United States – commonly known as competition laws outside of the U.S. – have evolved over the years with an ongoing effort to maintain and support fair competition. The major statute which concerns antitrust law is the Sherman Antitrust Act, originally enacted in 1890. One of the primary goals of the Sherman Act is to investigate, restrict, and reduce monopolies.

A monopoly exists when one person, group, or company is the exclusive supplier of a particular type of product. This means that one entity controls the supply of a good or service, giving that entity an enormous amount of power in negotiating the provision of that good or service. Ultimately that leads to unnecessarily high prices.

For example, American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) was a monopoly during much of the twentieth century in the United States in which the company held a monopoly on phone service. Indeed for seventy years, AT&T maintained the slogan: “One Policy, One System, Universal Service.” The company continued to grow in strength as it began buying smaller telephone companies such as Western Union Telegraph. While the government allowed the monopoly for many years, it finally broke up the company in 1984, with the division of AT&T into seven companies, of which only three remain today: AT&T, Verizon and Qwest.
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New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (the “CFA”) is one of the broadest, strongest, and most far-reaching consumer protection laws in the country. The CFA states that it is unlawful for any person to use any unconscionable commercial practice in the sale of any goods, services, or even real estate in some cases.

 

 

The New Jersey Legislature enacted the CFA in 1960. Amendments in 1971 expanded the Act’s reach and purpose and included provisions to allow for individuals to bring private lawsuits rather than only allowing public actions by the Attorney General. However, the State still plays a significant part in enforcing the Act, led by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Office of Consumer Protection.

In the attempt to encourage private actions and reduce the burden to the State in enforcing the CFA, the Act included the ability for claimants to recover treble (triple) damages, reasonable attorneys fees, and litigation expenses. This was done so that even those with little means to bring an action could recover their losses no matter how small, and, in the process, the punitive nature of the damages would further discourage those who would otherwise be tempted to use deceitful or fraudulent practices against others.

Since the CFA is a remedial piece of legislation courts tend to interpret the Act’s language very broadly with the aim of providing the most consumer protection. However, the CFA does have some limits and generally will not apply to claims such as denial of benefits by insurance companies, claims regarding employee benefit plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Act (“ERISA”), claims regarding hospital services, employment claims, or claims against the government, public utilities, or licensed professionals. “Licensed professionals” typically include accountants, insurance agents, architects, doctors or other professionals where the claimant could have alternative options for recourse such as through malpractice claims.
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