What is it and How Does it Work?
The Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA) is an Ohio State law that in the broadest sense protects consumers in consumer related transaction for example from shoddy workmanship of contractors. The Act protects consumers from deceptive or unfair acts committed by contractors for work that is primarily personal, family, or for the household. The CSPA is a remedial law which is designed to be liberally construed in favor of the consumer. One of the purposes of the act is to make private enforcement of the CSPA attractive to consumers who otherwise might not be able to afford or justify the cost of prosecuting an alleged violation under other legal remedies. The Act has a lower requirement of proof to establish a violation; the contractor does not have to have actual intent to commit a violation and does not even need to know his actions are a violation. Please see the questions and answers under the construction heading for additional information.
The CSPA applies to residential construction projects including but not limited to, repair or replacement of roofing, windows, siding, room additions, new construction, interior remodeling, brick and foundation work, concrete patio and driveways, heating and air conditioning and just about anything a contractor is hired to work on at your residence.
How the act works is really a matter of filing a lawsuit making a claim that there has been a CSPA violation. The CSPA may apply to actions that occur before a sale, during work being performed or after the project is finished. A lawsuit can include other claims along with the CSPA violation claim. Such other claim might be a breach of contract or warranty claims.
It is important to note that the CSPA has a relatively short statute of limitations of two years from the date of the violation whether you know about it or not. One important note related to contractors is that the two years will start to run from the date of last unsuccessful repair or communication that a repair will be made or attempted. If a consumer intends to file a claim under the CSPA do not wait or delay or your right to do so may be lost.
What are my remedies for a violation of the CSPA? Remedies for a violation of the Act may include up to three times your actual damages and possible attorney fees. There are certain requirements that have to be met before an individual will be eligible for damages equal to three times their actual damages. These requirements are technical in nature and best discussed with your attorney. The Act also allows for recover of attorney fees however such recovery is at the discretion of the trial judge. The judge could award all of the attorney fees, some of the attorney fees or none of the fees requested. Again this is a complex point and best discussed with your attorney.
The Consumer Sales Practices Act is a law that is often overlooked by many attorneys. It is somewhat complex in its application and can be a stumbling block for those unfamiliar with it.
The benefits to consumers to file under this law are significant and should not be disregarded without a thorough review of your individual matter. Contact Tim to get answers to your questions and options to address your specific problem.