What You Can Expect from a False Advertising Lawsuit in Kansas

The state’s consumer protection laws on deceptive business tactics

We have all seen questionable advertising claims online and on television. But at what point does a business' claims cross the line from being mere “puffery” to actually qualifying as false advertising? And what are the legal penalties in Kansas for engaging in such deceptive business tactics?

Unfair Trade and Consumer Protection

Kansas has adopted a series of laws governing what is known as “unfair trade and consumer protection.” These laws prohibit businesses in the state from engaging in a wide variety of practices considered “deceptive” and harmful to consumers. Such deceptive acts include but are not limited to the following:

  • making false representations with respect to the “sponsorship, approval, accessories, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or quantities” any “property or services” offered for sale
  • representing that property or services meet a “particular standard, quality, grade, style or model” that “differs materially” from the ones actually offered for sale
  • willfully stating any “exaggeration, falsehood, innuendo or ambiguity as to a material fact” in connection with the sale of a product or service, or willfully failing to state or omitting a material fact
  • “disparaging” the goods or services offered by a competitor by knowingly using “false or misleading” statements;
  • advertising goods or services for sale with no intention of actually supplying them to consumers
  • making false statements regarding the actual reasons for offering any price reductions, i.e., placing goods “on sale”
  • sending an advertisement to a consumer that “could reasonably be interpreted or construes as a bill,” unless there is a clear notice disclosing the fact it is, in fact, an advertisement

Who Can Bring a False Advertising Lawsuit?

If a Kansas-based business engages in false advertising or similar deceptive tactics, they may face an investigation from the state attorney general's office, as well as private lawsuits from affected customers. The attorney general has broad authority to bring legal actions designed to stop unfair and deceptive business practices. Individual consumers can also join together and file a class action lawsuit against the business.

What Are the Penalties for False Advertising?

If a false advertising lawsuit brought by either the state or a private party succeeds, the court will issue a declaratory judgment declaring the accused business' conduct illegal. Typically, this will also include an injunction, ordering the business not to engage in any further acts of false or deceptive advertising. Individual consumers may also seek to recover monetary damages for any losses they sustained as a result of relying on the false ads.

In lieu of individual damages, consumers or the attorney general may seek a fine of $20,000 against the offending business. Note that this is a per-violation penalty, so a business may end up paying a substantial fine if they are found to have engaged in multiple acts of false advertising.

If you have additional questions about how the law protects you against false advertising and other deceptive business practices, you should contact a qualified Kansas consumer law attorney.

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