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Spade v. Select Comfort Corp.

Supreme Court of New Jersey

November 8, 2017, Argued; April 16, 2018, Decided

A-57 September Term 2016, 078611

Opinion

 [**971]  [*508]   JUSTICE PATTERSON delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this appeal, we address two questions of law certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to this Court. The Third Circuit's certified questions arise from two putative class actions brought under the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA), N.J.S.A. 56:12-14 to -18. The plaintiffs in both actions premise their TCCWNA claims on defendants' alleged violations of N.J.A.C. 13:45A-5.2 and -5.3. Those regulations, promulgated by the Attorney General under the authority of the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 to -210, address the content of contracts of sale or sale orders for the delivery of household furniture.

The certified questions are:

 [**972]  1. Does a violation of the Furniture Delivery Regulations alone constitute a violation of a clearly established right or responsibility of the seller under the TCCWNA and thus provides a basis for relief under the TCCWNA?

2. Is a consumer who receives a contract that does not comply with the Furniture Delivery Regulations, but has not suffered any adverse consequences [***12]  from the noncompliance, an "aggrieved consumer" under the TCCWNA?

 [*509]  We answer the first certified question in the affirmative and the second certified question in the negative. We hold that ] the inclusion of language prohibited by N.J.A.C. 13:45A-5.3(c) in contracts of sale or sale orders for the delivery of household furniture may alone give rise to a violation of a "clearly established legal right of a consumer or responsibility of a seller" for purposes of the TCCWNA. N.J.S.A. 56:12-15. We further hold that] a consumer who receives a contract that includes language prohibited by N.J.A.C. 13:45A-5.3(c), but who suffers no monetary or other harm as a result of that noncompliance, is not an "aggrieved consumer" entitled to a remedy under the TCCWNA. N.J.S.A. 56:12-17.

In 1995, ] pursuant to N.J.S.A. 56:8-4, the Division of Consumer Affairs proposed and adopted regulations governing the delivery of household furniture and furnishings, N.J.A.C. 13:45A-5.1 to -5.4. See 17 N.J.R. 3575 (Sept. 18, 1995). The regulations impose a series of delivery and notice requirements on "[a]ny person who is engaged in the sale of household furniture for which contracts of sale or sale orders are used for merchandise ordered for future delivery." N.J.A.C. 13:45A-5.1(a).

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232 N.J. 504 *; 181 A.3d 969 **; 2018 N.J. LEXIS 483 ***; 2018 WL 1790394

DAVID SPADE AND RATINA SPADE, H/W, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A CLASS REPRESENTATIVE ON BEHALF OF OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, v. SELECT COMFORT CORP., D/B/A SLEEP NUMBER, LEGGETT & PLATT INC., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS. CHRISTOPHER D. WENGER AND EILEEN MULLER, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, v. BOB'S DISCOUNT FURNITURE, LLC, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.

Subsequent History: Decision reached on appeal by, Remanded by Spade v. Select Comfort Corp., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 16021 (3d Cir. N.J., June 11, 2018)

Prior History:  [***1] On certification of questions of law from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

CORE TERMS

consumer, aggrieved, regulations, seller, furniture, delivery, legal right, sales, refund, damages, notice, provisions, sales contract, purposes, curiae, violates, warranty, household furniture, district court, civil penalty, contracts, inclusion, questions, appeals, Retail, bailee, cancel, lender, lessor, adverse consequences

Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices, State Regulation, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Commercial Transactions, Sales of Goods, Contracts Law, Defenses, Governments, Legislation, Statutory Remedies & Rights, Sales of Goods, Construction & Obligations, Administrative Law, Separation of Powers, Legislative Controls, Explicit Delegation of Authority, Performance, Delivery & Shipment by Seller, Agency Rulemaking, State Proceedings, Rights of Buyers, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Certified Questions, Interpretation, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Warranties, Rule Application & Interpretation, Readjustments, Formation, Remedies, Damages, Damages, Compensatory Damages