South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Deceptive Ad Must Be Proximate Cause of Loss Suffered to Be Actionable
Description Illinois high court held that the advertising claims made about a home construction product made years ago, which may not be true, could not be shown to have been made to the buyers of the homes who are now dealing with the problem, so there is no cause of action for deceptive advertising.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Deceptive Advertising; Failure to Disclose; Proximate Cause
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Shannon and others own homes that are covered with a Boise Cascade exterior composite wood siding product installed on homes in 1983 and 1984, after which the product was discontinued. The owners brought suit under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, alleging that Boise's siding was defective and subject to rotting, buckling, and general failure. They contended that Boise deceptively advertised the siding was "of inherent good quality," "durable" and "low maintenance." Plaintiffs contended it was fraud not to disclose that the product was sensitive to moisture and required high maintenance. After long, complicated litigation, the matter was appealed.
Decision

Deceptive advertising cannot be the proximate cause of damages under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act unless it actually deceives the plaintiff. The claim that Boise's allegedly deceptive claims probably reached the builder-sellers of the homes that installed the siding when they were built was insufficient to establish causation under the Act. There was no evidence that Boise made the claims about the product to the buyers of the homes, so they have no cause of action.

Citation Shannon v. Boise Cascade Corp., 805 N.E.2d 213 (Sup. Ct., Ill., 2004)

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