Assembly Bill 292 (Hayes – 1970)
Chapter 1550, Statutes of 1970
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California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act was enacted into law in 1970 following legislative passage of Assembly Bill 292. (See Exhibit A, #1h) Assembly member James Hayes, in his role as chair of the Assembly Committee on Judiciary, introduced the measure on January 21, 1970. (See Exhibit A, #1a)
The Assembly and Senate Committees on Judiciary considered the policy issues raised by the measure. (See Exhibit A, #3 and #4) Six amendments were made to the bill, three by the Assembly and three by the Senate. (See Exhibit A, #1b through #1g and #2) Assembly Bill 292 was approved by the Legislature on August 21, 1970, signed by Governor Ronald Reagan on September 20, 1970, and recorded by the Secretary of State as Chapter 1550 of the Statutes of 1970. (See Exhibit A, #1h and #2)
Assembly Bill 292, also called the “Consumers Legal Remedy Act,” was “meant to provide consumers with remedies against merchants employing various deceptive
practices in connection with the sale of goods or services.” (See Exhibit A, #3a, page 1) These remedies included actual money damages or losses incurred by the consumer, injunctions to prevent further deceptive practices by the merchant, and punitive damages. (See Exhibit A, #5, document SP‑2)
It appears that prior to the passage of Assembly Bill 292, the consumer could only sue on the basis of fraud, a difficult action to maintain, or on the basis of the general language of Civil Code section 3369 prohibiting unfair business practices. (See Exhibit A, #3a, page 1) A contract action was usually insufficient since a contract was rarely consummated. (See Exhibit A, #3c)
According to the analysis prepared for the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Assembly Bill 292 as amended on August 7, 1970:
Establishes various causes of action re deceptive practices some of which are based on intentional conduct and others on negligent conduct or strict liability. Provides defense to damages for unintentional [sic] under new Sec. 1784 in certain cases.
Creates new class action procedures where a person can be notified of action and be bound by judgment unless he affirmatively withdraws.(See Exhibit A, #4b, page 1)