Businesses hold significant money, power, and influence. Unchecked, they can wreak havoc on the lives of everyday people by taking their money, plunging them into debt and financial ruin, and destroying their ability to trust. California has numerous laws aimed at holding businesses accountable when they take advantage of consumers. One of these is a set of laws contained in the California Business and Professions Code Section 17500, sometimes referred to as the False Advertising Law (FAL).
What is the False Advertising Law?
While the language of the statute is long and cumbersome for even a lawyer to read, it essentially states that:
“It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association, or any employee thereof” “to induce the public to enter into any obligation” “based on any statement” “which is untrue or misleading, and which is known, or which by the exercise of reasonable care should be known, to be untrue or misleading”.
It is significant to note that in order to demonstrate that a statement is misleading, case law has established an objective standard-that a “reasonable” consumer would find it misleading. It is also essential that the advertising must have been aimed at the “public”, and not statements made specifically at one person, for the FAL to apply. Further, even if a statement by a person, firm, corporation, or employee is true, it still may be misleading under the FAL, again, if a reasonable consumer found it to be misleading.
What Are the Penalties Under the FAL?
The FAL allows for a person, firm, corporation, or its employee, to face both civil and criminal liability for false or misleading statements. In the realm of civil penalties, a successful consumer may be entitled to injunctive relief and restitution payments. To obtain an injunction, it must be demonstrated that the false or misleading statements are likely to recur. In addition, the FAL includes an unusual remedy of criminal penalties, stating:
“Any violation of the provisions of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by both that imprisonment and fine.”
If you enrolled at DeVry in the last ten years based on advertisements of better job opportunities and higher pay, you may be entitled to damages against DeVry. The legal team at Moss Bollinger has been negotiating DeVry payments and would like to help you. We won’t be paid unless you are. Call our office today at (866) 535-2994 for a free consultation or complete our online form.