David Friedman, associate professor of business law at Willamette, was cited in lawsuits filed against four major national retailers by the Los Angeles city attorney, Mike Feuer, Dec. 7. The lawsuits allege false reference pricing at J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Sears stores.
Feuer said in a press release that the four companies, in order to increase sales, misled customers by leading them to believe items were being heavily discounted from the reference price. Reference prices are also known as “original,” “regular,” or “list” prices. Friedman’s work, Reconsidering Fictitious Pricing, published in the Minnesota Law Review this year, was cited in each of the lawsuits, illustrating how reference pricing has increased recently in frequency and degree.
Under California law, companies cannot advertise a former alleged price of an item unless the item was sold at that alleged price within three months of the ad or the date it was sold at that price is stated within the ad. The lawsuits detail several specific examples of the alleged pricing scheme and seek injunctions prohibiting the retailers from further use of false reference pricing, as well as civil penalties up to $2,500 for each violation.
Read the full press release and complaints.
Read a news story about the lawsuits.
About Willamette University College of Law
Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship and mentorship. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution.