by Max Brantley
If this bill passes, companies who actively engage in deceptive trade practices will have little concern about a few individual lawsuits. And, the added language about "reliance" makes it look like a victim would almost have to prove actual fraud— as opposed to just showing that a fee was unlawful or usurious.What's this about? Payday lenders charging rates that amount to usurious interest. They were run out of the state by deceptive trade practice actions. But they are back and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, unlike her predecessor Dustin McDaniel, refuses to do anything about it. This law would disarm those who'd like to keep the bloodsuckers out of Arkansas.
While most states have deceptive practice statutes that allow for civil penalties, ours simply provides a mechanism to let victims make a claim in court. They still have to prove their actual damages. If the DTPA is gutted to prevent the joinder of claims and requires a showing of fraud, it will become pretty meaningless — which is clearly the aim of this bill.