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New bill would strengthen Colorado's Consumer Protection Act

'We have the weakest laws in the country,' lawmaker says
Consumer bill.jpg
Posted at 5:55 PM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-22 22:36:42-05

DENVER — Problems with used cars are a common complaint as consumers struggle to find recourse after buying used "lemons."

Denver7 Investigates' previous reporting exposed an issue with Colorado's Consumer Protection Act that Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, is trying to address.

“Unfortunately, we have one of the weakest laws in the country,” said Weissman, who recently introduced House Bill 1014 to strengthen the Consumer Protection Act. “The problem we're trying to fix is the law right now essentially says you have to prove 'significant public harm' or 'significant public impact' before you can try to get your own problem addressed in court.”

The 26-year-old court ruling has effectively meant consumers must show that most or all of the business' other customers were affected in the same way.

“So for me, personally, we've had to basically assume we're going to lose most Consumer Protection Act violation cases,” said Matt Osborne, a consumer protection attorney who said he has had to take cases out of state where laws are more friendly to consumers. "We've had multiple cases where we have proven that the dealership or the big business defrauded the consumer, and even though we proved fraud, they were not able to get their consumer protection rights vindicated because we couldn't show that they had done it to other people.”

Colorado is one of only five states with that provision, according to Weissman, along with Georgia, Nebraska, New York and South Carolina.

His bill would eliminate the requirement to prove a business that used unfair or deceptive practices had a "significant impact" on the community.

It could affect consumers' largest purchases, from cars to homes.

The Colorado Association of Homebuilders is opposed to the bill, stating that it would mean more construction defect lawsuits and discourage companies from building homes.

In a statement to Denver7 Investigates, CEO Ted Leighty said, At a time when the Governor, legislature and many local governments are trying to identify policy solutions to spur new housing, HB24-1014 will have the same chilling effect on single-family and townhome production as the Construction Defect Action Reform Act had on condo construction. The net result: Far fewer housing options when our state needs much more housing. We should be enriching Coloradans through homeownership, not attorneys.”

But Weissman said those issues have not been a problem in other states, and it's time for Coloradans to have more protections.
“We just are in a small minority of states here in Colorado with this defect in our law that we're seeking to fix,” said Weissman.

The bill is slated for reading in committee next month.

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