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Consumer Protection Law? Not for Michigan Citizens

I have spent considerable time at this location advising all U.S. citizens about the anti-justice legislative and judicial screwing Michigan citizens have received from their elected Republican representatives, their former Republican Governor (John Engler), and his judicial appointees. An excellent example of their anti-justice agenda is the current status of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. In its original form, the Act banned 29 deceptive business practices involving sales of goods and services and granted authority to the state’s attorney general to sue to stop such conduct. However, since 1999, the Engler ‘pro-business’ appointees on the state Supreme Court have issued ruling after ruling denying justice to the average consumer, in favor of corporate interests and profits, contrary to the protections afforded in the Act.

One such example is currently being litigated in a Detroit area courtroom. In 2004, Paulette and James Day bought a GM certified and inspected used 2004 Chevrolet, for $20,350. It was “nearly new”, right? Wrong! Later, the Day’s were surprised to discover that the car was actually was two wrecks (the front of one and the rear of the other) that a dealer had welded together and sold to a broker, which then sold it to the dealer that sold it to the Day’s. Are you following this?! They became suspicious when they found a spot of blue paint in the gas tank of their red Chevy. They tried to return the car for a refund and the dealer refused. The Day’s hired a terrific consumer protection, lemon law, attorney, Dani Liblang, in Birmingham, MI, who had the car examined by an expert. The expert determined that the car was actually two damaged cars that had been pieced together, a process common enough that the auto industry even has a name for it: It is called “clipping”. General Motors, supposedly, disapproves of this practice.

“No consumer would ever expect that two vehicles welded together make a GM-certified used car,” says Liblang. She has a tough row to hoe in this lawsuit. As previously indicated, in 1999, the conservative majority of the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that as long as a business engaged in conduct that was specifically authorized by state law, it is exempt from the act, even if its conduct is deceptive. The court reaffirmed this principle in 2007, which effectively exempts any state or federally regulated business from non-compliance penalties. “If we had a strong Consumer Protection Act, this case would have been a slam dunk,” Liblang said. Because of the current status of the Act, she must rely on other laws to make her case.

The opinions were written by current Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert Young Jr., who is up for re-election next year. His opponent in next year’s election has not yet been named, but I strongly urge all Michigan citizens to vote for his unnamed pro-justice opponent. Young has a long, ill-reputed record of anti-consumer, anti-justice, pro-business/corporate opinions .

Efforts to amend the decimated law have been blocked by powerful business interests led by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Another local attorney, Adam Taub, indicates that clients who seek his counsel in such matter are “shocked to discover that Michigan no longer has an effective Consumer Protection Act. … It’s Michigan’s dirty little secret.” Hopefully, with the attached article, this post, and others like it, it will not be a secret any longer. Hopefully, Michigan citizens will react, as they did last November, when they defeated incumbent Michigan Supreme Court Justice Clifford Taylor (the infamous “Sleeping Judge”). Hopefully, they will vote to defeat (anti) Justice Robert Young in next year’s election and return some measure of sanity and justice to Michigan law.

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