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Is the Cost of Hiring an Attorney an “Ascertainable Loss” under UTPCPL?

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | June 3, 2015

No. 1,167

GRIMES v. ENTERPRISE LEASING CO., 105 A.3d 1188 (Pa. Supreme Ct. 2014)

Image: yelp.com

Image: yelp.com

Christina Grimes rented a car and returned it with a scratch.  Pursuant to provisions contained in a form contract,  Enterprise made a claim against Grimes for damages not compensated by insurance.

Grimes filed a six-count complaint, including a claim for damages under the UTPCPL catch-all provision. In addition to other requirements, a UTPCPL plaintiff must prove that, as a result of the UTPCPL violation, he or she suffered an “ascertainable loss of money or property, real or personal.” Plaintiff plead that she had incurred the cost of retaining an attorney.  The Superior Court held that such an expenditure qualified as an ascertainable loss. The Supreme Court granted a petition for allowance of appeal and reversed the Superior Court holding.

“Even if Appellee had made the relevant allegations in a pleading,” the Supreme Court stated, : we hold that the mere acquisition of counsel would not suffice to satisfy the “ascertainable loss” requirement. Whether a relevant ‘ascertainable loss’ was suffered here requires us to determine and effectuate the meaning the General Assembly intended to convey in its statutory language.”

AS the Appellees pointed out, if incurring attorneys fees to bring suit constituted an ascertainable loss, every litigant would qualify and the requirement would become a nullity.

CLT

 

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CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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