Deceptive advertising as basis for products liability claims
The Georgia Fair Business Practices Act was enacted in the 1970’s. In the early nineties I sifted through the original legislative committee files at the archives in researching legislative intent. It is clear that this Georgia law encompasses personal injury and wrongful death claims based upon unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce, and provides for treble damages, punitive damages and attorney fees for such claims.
At that time in the early nineties, I used that statute to recover from a product distributor that would not have responsibility for a fatally defective forklift under Georgia product liability law that shields sellers from liability. However, by classifying the forklift and attachment as an "office supply" we were able to get the job done. After surviving a barrage of motions and an interlocutory appeal, we settled for policy limits on the eve of trial. The judge on that case still mentions it every time I see him.
Now my friends at Finch McCranie have blogged about Altria Group v. Good, in which the U. S. Supreme Court has held that federal law neither expressly or impliedly preempts a lawsuit filed under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act by Maine smokers.
It may be worth noting that while the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act does allow personal injury and wrongful death claims, it bars class actions based upon it. The Georgia FBPA can be useful, however, in individual products liability claims where there was an unfair or deceptive act in the promotion or advertisement of the product.
Ken Shigley has been designated as a "Super Lawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Master of the Lamar Inn of Court at Emory Law School, and served as a faculty member for ten years at the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program. A member of the Million Dollar Advocates, he has successfully tried trucking accident cases to multimillion dollar verdict. He was recently elected Secretary of the 39,000 member State Bar of Georgia. Mr. Shigley is available for free consultations in cases of wrongful death or serious personal injury in Georgia.