FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 4, 2016
Contact: Nancy Wall Hewston or Dana Beyerle (334) 834-6000
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Business Council of Alabama today commended the Legislature for strong bipartisan passage of SB 270, the deceptive trade practices bill by Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City.
“Senate Bill 270 will head off a proliferation of deceptive trade class-action lawsuits that would try to slip into court due to a technical ruling by a federal appellate court,” said BCA President and CEO William J. Canary. “The House and Senate deserve a heartfelt thank you from the business community for its decisive clarification to a law that unfixed could have had a dangerous effect on business.”
The BCA included passage of this important legislation as part of its 2016 Legislative Priorities. SB 270 passed the Senate 31-1. It was amended and passed by the House 101-1 on Tuesday, and concurred with by the Senate today by a vote of 29-0. It goes to the Governor for his signature.
Bill sponsor Sen. Williams and Reps. David Faulkner, R-Birmingham, and Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo, deserve credit for their expert handling of the bill in committees and on their respective floors, Canary said. Rep. Fridy advocated for the bill for more than six hours due a filibuster over the unrelated BP bill, which stalled in the Senate.
Passage of SB 270 was necessary due to a recent opinion by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that threatened to expose Alabama businesses to class-action lawsuits brought by private parties under the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
SB 270 simply reestablishes the original legislative intent of the ADTPA that the limitation barring private parties from bringing class-actions is a “substantive” one. The 11th Circuit ruling that created this problem interpreted this aspect of the statute to be “procedural” rather than “substantive,” which created a serious threat of increased litigation for business.
The ADTPA prohibits a broad range of “deceptive” trade practices, including representing that products have characteristics that they do not have, selling products without disclosing known material facts, and any other practice that might mislead consumers. The ADTPA expressly prohibits private plaintiffs from bringing an ADTPA class action. Instead, it reserves this powerful enforcement tool for the discretion of the Alabama Attorney General or district attorneys.
The Business Council of Alabama is Alabama’s foremost voice for business. The BCA is a non-partisan, statewide business association representing the interests and concerns of nearly 1 million working Alabamians through its member companies and its partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. The BCA is Alabama’s exclusive affiliate to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.