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Plaintiffs claiming the benefit of N.Y. General Business Law § 349, whether individuals or entities, must charge conduct of the defendant that is consumer-oriented. Consumer-oriented conduct does not require a repetition or pattern of deceptive behavior.
The plaintiff union funds alleged that the bank failed to notify them that the savings accounts that they had opened capped the principal upon which interest could be paid. Learning of this policy seven years after starting the accounts, the union funds sued under N.Y. General Business Law § 349. Defendant bank filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. The appellate court affirmed.
Did the appellate court err in upholding the grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant?
Plaintiffs claiming the benefit of § 349 had to charge conduct of the defendant that was consumer-oriented. The law was intended to afford a practical means of halting consumer frauds at their incipiency without the necessity to wait for the development of persistent frauds. Private contract disputes, unique to the parties, for example, would not fall within the ambit of the statute. Here, the union funds were customers opening accounts, which was not unique to these two parties.