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University of Michigan Law School

Consumer Protection Law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

States Empowering Plaintiff Cities, Eli Savit Apr 2019

States Empowering Plaintiff Cities, Eli Savit

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Across the country, cities are becoming major players in plaintiff’s-side litigation. With increasing frequency, cities, counties, and other municipalities are filing lawsuits to vindicate the public interest. Cities’ aggressive use of lawsuits, however, has been met with some skepticism from both scholars and states. At times, states have taken action—both legislative and via litigation—to preempt city-initiated suits.

This Article contends that states should welcome city-initiated public-interest lawsuits. Such litigation, this Article demonstrates, vindicates the principles of local control that cities exist to facilitate. What is more, a motivated plaintiff city can accomplish public-policy goals that are important ...


Digital Market Perfection, Rory Van Loo Mar 2019

Digital Market Perfection, Rory Van Loo

Michigan Law Review

Google’s, Apple’s, and other companies’ automated assistants are increasingly serving as personal shoppers. These digital intermediaries will save us time by purchasing grocery items, transferring bank accounts, and subscribing to cable. The literature has only begun to hint at the paradigm shift needed to navigate the legal risks and rewards of this coming era of automated commerce. This Article begins to fill that gap by surveying legal battles related to contract exit, data access, and deception that will determine the extent to which automated assistants are able to help consumers to search and switch, potentially bringing tremendous societal ...


Vehicle Rental Laws: Road Blocks To Evolving Mobility Models?, Wesley D. Hurst, Leslie J. Pujo Jan 2019

Vehicle Rental Laws: Road Blocks To Evolving Mobility Models?, Wesley D. Hurst, Leslie J. Pujo

Journal of Law and Mobility

The laws and regulations governing mobility are inconsistent and antiquated and should be modernized to encourage innovation as we prepare for an autonomous car future. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has concluded that Autonomous Vehicles, or Highly Automated Vehicles (“HAVs”) may “prove to be the greatest personal transportation revolution since the popularization of the personal automobile nearly a century ago.” Preparation for a HAV world is underway as the mobility industry evolves and transforms itself at a remarkable pace. New mobility platforms are becoming more convenient, more automated and more data driven—all of which will facilitate the ...


A Post-Spokeo Taxonomy Of Intangible Harms, Jackson Erpenbach Jan 2019

A Post-Spokeo Taxonomy Of Intangible Harms, Jackson Erpenbach

Michigan Law Review

Article III standing is a central requirement in federal litigation. The Supreme Court’s Spokeo decision marked a significant development in the doctrine, dividing the concrete injury-in-fact requirement into two subsets: tangible and intangible harms. While tangible harms are easily cognizable, plaintiffs alleging intangible harms can face a perilous path to court. This raises particular concern for the system of federal consumer protection laws where enforcement relies on consumers vindicating their own rights by filing suit when companies violate federal law. These plaintiffs must often allege intangible harms arising out of their statutorily guaranteed rights. This Note demonstrates that Spokeo ...


The Pharma Barons: Corporate Law's Dangerous New Race To The Bottom In The Pharmaceutical Industry, Eugene Mccarthy Oct 2018

The Pharma Barons: Corporate Law's Dangerous New Race To The Bottom In The Pharmaceutical Industry, Eugene Mccarthy

Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review

In this Article, I argue that drug companies have created a highly profitable but dangerous business model by employing the same legal tactics as the nineteenth-century “robber barons,” the group of financiers who orchestrated corporate law’s infamous race to the bottom. Like these historical financiers, drug company executives have captured the legal apparatus and regulatory bodies that oversee them. In so doing, they have transformed the law from a system of governance into a set of enabling doctrines. The pharmaceutical industry has turned legislation intended to protect the public into a legal justification for marketing ineffective and unsafe prescription ...


Behavioral Finance Symposium Summary Paper, Michael S. Barr, Annabel Jouard, Andrew Norwich, Josh Wright, Katy Davis May 2018

Behavioral Finance Symposium Summary Paper, Michael S. Barr, Annabel Jouard, Andrew Norwich, Josh Wright, Katy Davis

Other Publications

On September 14-15, 2017, the University of Michigan’s Center on Finance, Law, and Policy and behavioral science research and design lab ideas42 brought together influential leaders from academia, government, nonprofits and the financial sector for a two-day symposium on behavioral finance. Behavioral finance is the study of how behavioral biases and tendencies affect financial decisions, and in turn how those impact financial markets.


Misbehavioral Law And Economics, Jacob Hale Russell Apr 2018

Misbehavioral Law And Economics, Jacob Hale Russell

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Many legal rules—ranging from common-law contract doctrines to modern consumer protection regulations—are designed to protect individuals from their own mistakes. But scholars have neglected a core difficulty facing such policies: we humans are a motley bunch, and we are defined in part by our idiosyncrasies. As a result, one person’s mistake is another’s ideal choice. Making matters worse, it is hard to observe when a policy response misfires. If cognitive errors and psychological biases are as prevalent as current research suggests, then we have no reliable way of knowing consumers’ true preferences. So are we always ...


Understanding The Consumer Review Fairness Act Of 2016, Eric Goldman Nov 2017

Understanding The Consumer Review Fairness Act Of 2016, Eric Goldman

Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review

Consumer reviews are vitally important to our modern economy. Markets become stronger and more efficient when consumers share their marketplace experiences and guide other consumers toward the best vendors and away from poor ones. Businesses recognize the importance of consumer reviews, and many businesses take numerous steps to manage how consumer reviews affect their public image. Unfortunately, in a misguided effort to control consumer reviews, some businesses have deployed contract provisions that ban or inhibit their consumers from reviewing them. I call those provisions “antireview clauses.”

Anti-review clauses distort the marketplace benefits society gets from consumer reviews by suppressing peer ...


Do We Need Help Using Yelp? Regulating Advertising On Mediated Reputation Systems, David Adam Friedman Nov 2017

Do We Need Help Using Yelp? Regulating Advertising On Mediated Reputation Systems, David Adam Friedman

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Yelp, Angie’s List, Avvo, and similar entities enable consumers to access an incredibly useful trove of information about peer experiences with businesses and their goods and services. These “mediated reputation systems,” gatherers and disseminators of consumer peer opinions, are more trusted by consumers than traditional commercial channels. They are omnipresent, carried everywhere on mobile devices, and used by consumers ready to transact.

Though this information is valuable, a troubling conflict emerges in its presentation. Most of these reputation platforms rely heavily on advertising sales to support their business models. This reliance compels these entities to display persuasive advertising right ...


Products Liability And The Internet Of (Insecure) Things: Should Manufacturers Be Liable For Damage Caused By Hacked Devices?, Alan Butler Jun 2017

Products Liability And The Internet Of (Insecure) Things: Should Manufacturers Be Liable For Damage Caused By Hacked Devices?, Alan Butler

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

While the application of products liability to insecure software is a frequently-discussed concept in academic literature, many commentators have been skeptical of the viability of such claims for several reasons. First, the economic loss doctrine bars recovery for productivity loss, business disruption, and other common damages caused by software defects. Second, the application of design defects principles to software is difficult given the complexity of the devices and recent tort reform trends that have limited liability. Third, the intervening cause of damage from insecure software is typically a criminal or tortious act by a third party, so principles of causation ...


Rethinking Criminal Contempt In The Bankruptcy Courts, John A. E. Pottow, Jason S. Levin Mar 2017

Rethinking Criminal Contempt In The Bankruptcy Courts, John A. E. Pottow, Jason S. Levin

Law & Economics Working Papers

A surprising number of courts believe that bankruptcy judges lack authority to impose criminal contempt sanctions. We attempt to rectify this misunderstanding with a march through the historical treatment of contempt-like powers in bankruptcy, the painful statutory history of the 1978 Bankruptcy Code (including the exciting history of likely repealed 28 U.S.C. § 1481), and the various apposite rules of procedure. (Fans of the All Writs Act will delight in its inclusion.) But the principal service we offer to the bankruptcy community is dismantling the ubiquitous and persistent belief that there is some form of constitutional infirmity with "mere ...


Financial Reform: Making The System Safer And Fairer, Michael S. Barr Jan 2017

Financial Reform: Making The System Safer And Fairer, Michael S. Barr

Articles

In the fall of 2008, the financial crisis crushed the U.S. economy and plunged the country into the Great Recession. The crisis shuttered American businesses, cost millions of Americans their jobs, and wiped out home values and household savings. The macro effects hit hardest and were the longest lasting for those least able to bear the brunt of the crisis. It was devastating to middle-income families and perhaps even more so to low- and moderate-income households, who had little financial buffer (Barr 2012a). Financial stability, never robust for these families, dropped precipitously (Barr and Schaffa 2016). Both in the ...


Why Intra-Brand Dealer Competition Is Irrelevant To The Price Effects Of Tesla's Vertical Integration, Daniel A. Crane Jan 2017

Why Intra-Brand Dealer Competition Is Irrelevant To The Price Effects Of Tesla's Vertical Integration, Daniel A. Crane

Articles

"In recent years, Tesla Motors (recently renamed Tesla) has been engaged in a state-by-state ground way for the right to distribute it’s all-electric vehicles directly to consumers. The car dealers' lobby, with the political backing of General Motors, has fiercely battled back, relying on decades-old state dealer protection laws to argue that Tesla is legally bound to distribute through franchised dealers. Through a combination of favorable state legislative and judicial decisions, Tesla has won the right to distribute directly in many states, but remains categorically barred from direct distribution in important states like Michigan and Texas--and hence all direct ...


Fetishizing Copies, Jessica Litman Jan 2017

Fetishizing Copies, Jessica Litman

Book Chapters

Our copyright laws encourage authors to create new works and communicate them to the public, because we hope that people will read the books, listen to the music, see the art, watch the films, run the software, and build and inhabit the buildings. That is the way that copyright promotes the Progress of Science. Recently, that not-very-controversial principle has collided with copyright owners’ conviction that they should be able to control, or at least collect royalties from, all uses of their works. A particularly ill-considered manifestation of this conviction is what I have decided to call copy-fetish. This is the ...


Consumer Preferences For Performance Defaults, Franklin G. Snyder, Ann M. Mirabito Oct 2016

Consumer Preferences For Performance Defaults, Franklin G. Snyder, Ann M. Mirabito

Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review

Commercial law in the United States is designed to facilitate private transactions, and thus to enforce the presumed intent of the parties, who generally are free to negotiate the terms they choose. But these contracts inevitably have gaps, both because the parties cannot anticipate every situation that might arise from their relationship, and because negotiation is not costless. When courts are faced with these gaps in a litigation context, they supply default terms to fill them. These defaults usually are set to reflect what courts believe similar parties would have agreed to if they had addressed the issue. These “majoritarian ...


Revisiting The Accredited Investor Standard, Syed Haq Feb 2016

Revisiting The Accredited Investor Standard, Syed Haq

Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review

The passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act provided the impetus for several changes in the financial regulatory regime. In the securities markets, Dodd-Frank included provisions that lifted a ban on general solicitation and mandated a review of the accredited investor standard. These changes, while intended to increase capital formation within our private markets, also brought to light serious investor protection issues. This note advocates for a new accredited investor standard that more accurately reflects the risks associated with investing in the private markets.


Debunking Humphrey's Executor, Daniel A. Crane Jan 2016

Debunking Humphrey's Executor, Daniel A. Crane

Articles

The Supreme Court’s 1935 Humphrey’s Executor decision paved the way for the modern administrative state by holding that Congress could constitutionally limit the President’s powers to remove heads of regulatory agencies. The Court articulated a quartet of features of the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) statutory design that ostensibly justified the Commission’s constitutional independence. It was to be nonpartisan and apolitical, uniquely expert, and performing quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial, rather than executive, functions. In recent years, the staying power of Humphrey’s Executor has been called into question as a matter of constitutional design. This Essay reconsiders ...


The Cost Of Confusion: The Paradox Of Trademarked Pharmaceuticals, Hannah Brennan Oct 2015

The Cost Of Confusion: The Paradox Of Trademarked Pharmaceuticals, Hannah Brennan

Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review

The United States spends nearly $1,000 per person annually on drugs—forty percent more than the next highest spender, Canada, and more than twice the amount France and Germany spend. Although myriad factors contribute to high drug spending in the United States, intellectual property law plays a crucial and well-documented role in inhibiting access to cheaper, generic medications. Yet, for the most part, the discussion of the relationship between intellectual property law and drug spending has centered on patent protection. Recently, however, a few researchers have turned their attention to a different avenue of exclusivity—trademark law. New studies ...


Mandatory Arbitration In Consumer Finance And Investor Contracts, Michael S. Barr Oct 2015

Mandatory Arbitration In Consumer Finance And Investor Contracts, Michael S. Barr

Articles

Mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses are pervasive in consumer financial and investor contracts—for credit cards, bank accounts, auto loans, broker-dealer services, and many others. These clauses often ill serve households. Consumers are typically presented with contracts on a “take it or leave it” basis, with no ability to negotiate over terms. Arbitration provisions are often not clearly disclosed, and in any event are not salient for consumers, who do not focus on the importance of the provision in the event that a dispute over the contract later arises, and who may misforecast the likelihood of being in such a dispute ...


Regulating Electricity-Market Manipulation: A Proposal For A New Regulatory Regime To Proscribe All Forms Of Manipulation, Matthew Evans Feb 2015

Regulating Electricity-Market Manipulation: A Proposal For A New Regulatory Regime To Proscribe All Forms Of Manipulation, Matthew Evans

Michigan Law Review

Congress broadly authorized the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to protect consumers of electricity from all forms of manipulation in the electricity markets, but the regulations that FERC passed are not nearly so expansive. As written, FERC’s Anti-Manipulation Rule covers only instances of manipulation involving fraud. This narrow scope is problematic, however, because electricity markets can also be manipulated by nonfraudulent activity. Thus, in order to reach all forms of manipulation, FERC is forced to interpret and apply its Anti-Manipulation Rule in ways that strain the plain language and accepted understanding of the rule and therefore constitute an improper ...


The Volcker Rule, Banking Entities, And Covered Funds Activities, Jeffrey Koh, Kyle Gaughan Dec 2014

The Volcker Rule, Banking Entities, And Covered Funds Activities, Jeffrey Koh, Kyle Gaughan

Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review

With the passage of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, Congress instituted a host of new laws attempting to protect consumers from the types of risky trading that led to the 2008 economic crisis. However, many of the new rules and regulations, including the Volcker Rule, are yet to fully take effect. Among other restrictions, the Volcker Rule attempts to curtail risky trading by limiting banking entity investments in private equity and venture capital funds. As the Volcker Rule nears its implementation deadline, banking entities are concerned that they will face substantial losses in having to comply with the Volcker Rule by ...


Broker-Dealers And Investment Advisers: A Behaviorial-Economics Analysis Of Competing Suggestions For Reform, Polina Demina Dec 2014

Broker-Dealers And Investment Advisers: A Behaviorial-Economics Analysis Of Competing Suggestions For Reform, Polina Demina

Michigan Law Review

For the average investor trying to save for retirement or a child’s college fund, the world of investing has become increasingly complex. These retail investors must turn more frequently to financial intermediaries, such as broker-dealers and investment advisers, to get sound investment advice. Such intermediaries perform different duties for their clients, however. The investment adviser owes his client a fiduciary duty of care and therefore must provide financial advice that is in the client’s best interests, while the broker-dealer must merely provide advice that is suitable to the client’s interests—a lower standard than the fiduciary duty ...


Protecting Whistleblower Protections In The Dodd-Frank Act, Samuel C. Leifer Oct 2014

Protecting Whistleblower Protections In The Dodd-Frank Act, Samuel C. Leifer

Michigan Law Review

In 2008, the United States fell into its worst economic recession in over seventy years. In response, Congress enacted the near-comprehensive Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Section 922 of Dodd–Frank, in particular, includes specific provisions designed to incentivize and protect corporate whistleblowers. These provisions demonstrated Congress’s belief that a comprehensive and robust whistleblower protection scheme was essential to preventing many of the abuses that caused the financial crisis. Unfortunately, this section’s inconsistent language has produced conflicting decisions within the federal judiciary. In accordance with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”)’s own reading ...


Opening Schumer’S Box: The Empirical Foundations Of Modern Consumer Finance Disclosure Law, Hosea H. Harvey Sep 2014

Opening Schumer’S Box: The Empirical Foundations Of Modern Consumer Finance Disclosure Law, Hosea H. Harvey

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

This Article explores the fundamental failure of Congress’ twenty-five-year quest to utilize disclosure as the primary tool to both regulate credit card issuers and educate consumers. From inception until present, reforms to this disclosure regime, even when premised on judgment and decision-making behavioralism, were nomothetic in orientation and ignored clear differences in population behavior and the heterogeniety of consumers. Current law prohibits credit card issuers from acquiring consumer socio-demographic data and prevents issuers and regulators from using market and policy experimentation to enhance disclosure’s efficacy. To explain why this regime was structured this way and why it must change ...


Tesla And The Car Dealers' Lobby, Daniel A. Crane Jun 2014

Tesla And The Car Dealers' Lobby, Daniel A. Crane

Articles

Tesla Motors, the offspring of entrepreneur Elon Musk (who brought us Pay-Pal and SpaceX), is the most exciting automotive development in many decades and a marquee story of American technological dynamism and innovation. The company’s luxury electric cars have caused a sensation in the auto industry, including a review by Consumer Reports calling Tesla’s Model S the best car it ever tested. Despite the acclaim, Tesla faces enormous challenges Despite the acclaim, Tesla faces enormous challenges in penetrating an automotive market that has been dominated for a century by internal combustion engines. Not only must it build cars ...


A Disclosure-Focused Approach To Compelled Commercial Speech, Andrew C. Budzinski May 2014

A Disclosure-Focused Approach To Compelled Commercial Speech, Andrew C. Budzinski

Michigan Law Review

In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration passed a rule revising compelled disclaimers on tobacco products pursuant to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The rule required that tobacco warnings include something new: all tobacco products now had to bear one of nine graphic images to accompany the text. Tobacco companies filed suit contesting the constitutionality of the rule, arguing that the government violated their right to free commercial speech by compelling disclosure of the graphic content. Yet First Amendment jurisprudence lacks a doctrinally consistent standard for reviewing such compelled disclosures. Courts’ analyses typically depend on whether the ...


Rationality's Reach, Adam B. Badawi Apr 2014

Rationality's Reach, Adam B. Badawi

Michigan Law Review

Economic analysis and the rational actor model have dominated contracts scholarship for at least a generation. In the past fifteen years or so, however, a group of behaviorists has challenged the ability of the rational choice model to account for consumer behavior. These behaviorists are not trying to dismantle the entire enterprise. They generally accept the fundamentals of economic analysis but argue that the rational actor model can be improved by incorporating evidence of decisionmaking flaws that people exhibit. Oren Bar-Gill has been one of the foremost and influential proponents of a behaviorist take on contracts, and his recent book ...


House Swaps: A Strategic Bankruptcy Solution To The Foreclosure Crisis, Lynn M. Lopucki Mar 2014

House Swaps: A Strategic Bankruptcy Solution To The Foreclosure Crisis, Lynn M. Lopucki

Michigan Law Review

Since the price peak in 2006, home values have fallen more than 30 percent, leaving millions of Americans with negative equity in their homes. Until the Supreme Court’s 1993 decision in Nobelman v. American Savings Bank, the bankruptcy system would have provided many such homeowners with a remedy. They could have filed bankruptcy, discharged the negative equity, committed to pay the mortgage holders the full values of their homes, and retained those homes. In Nobelman, however, the Court misinterpreted reasonably clear statutory language and invented legislative history to resolve a three-to-one split of circuits in favor of the minority ...


Tesla And The Car Dealers’ Lobby, Daniel A. Crane Jan 2014

Tesla And The Car Dealers’ Lobby, Daniel A. Crane

Law & Economics Working Papers

Tesla Motors, the offspring of the South African-American entrepreneur Elon Musk who also brought us Pay-Pal and SpaceX, is the most exciting automotive development in many decades and a marquee story of American technological dynamism and innovation. The company’s luxury electric cars have caused a sensation in the auto industry, including a review by Consumer Reports calling Tesla’s Model S the best car it ever tested.

Tesla faces enormous challenges in penetrating an automotive market that has been dominated for a century by internal combustion engines. Not only must it build cars that customers want to drive (and ...


The Tempting Of Antitrust: Robert Bork And The Goals Of Antitrust Policy, Daniel A. Crane Jan 2014

The Tempting Of Antitrust: Robert Bork And The Goals Of Antitrust Policy, Daniel A. Crane

Articles

Of all Robert Bork’s many important contributions to antitrust law, none was more significant than his identification of economic efficiency, disguised as consumer welfare, as the sole normative objective of U.S. antitrust law. The Supreme Court relied primarily on Bork’s argument that Congress intended the Sherman Act to advance consumer welfare in making its landmark statement in Reiter v. Sonotone that “Congress designed the Sherman Act as a ‘consumer welfare prescription.’” This singular normative vision proved foundational to the reorientation of antitrust law away from an interventionist, populist, Brandeisian, and vaguely Jeffersonian conception of antitrust law as ...