Earlier this week, the Governor of Ohio signed into law new legislation that gives businesses accused of cheating customers a new option for resolving lawsuits while taking away rights from consumers who sue.
The law is intended to expedite resolution on these legal matters by giving sued businesses the “right to cure” by offering to repay the cash along with legal fees capped at $2,500.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that while the law does not require plaintiffs to accept the offer, it does make it a riskier proposition should they continue with the lawsuit:
If a jury later awards him even a dollar less than the cheater offered, the wronged consumer loses the right to ask for triple damages, an enhanced penalty that courts can apply precisely to discourage misconduct.
Additionally, the consumer forfeits the right to ask that the offender pick up his court costs and attorneys’ fees, a penalty judges can impose if they find a company’s behavior egregious,,.
A consumer who goes to court can lose, even if he wins.
Businesses that conduct themselves honorably are put at a disadvantage. Competitors who engage in bait-and-switch and other unfair tactics no longer face an economic penalty for cheating.
While the bill was making its way through the state legislature, the National Consumer Law Center said it would make Ohio’s consumer protection laws some of the weakest in the country.