The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week refused to grant plaintiffs' request to review a Superior Court decision in December 2012 that held there is no right to a jury trial for claims brought under Pennsylvania's Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL).

In Fazio v. The Guardian Life Insurance Company, the Superior Court affirmed a bench trial verdict against the plaintiffs and agreed with several Pennsylvania trial court decisions holding that "there is no right to a jury trial for private causes of action under the UTPCPL." The Superior Court explained that "[t]he statute does not specifically enumerate that right." It also emphasized that "the UTPCPL did not merely codify common law claims of fraud. The UTPCPL created a distinct cause of action for consumer protection."

The Superior Court recently reiterated that there is no right to a jury trial in Dearmitt v. New York Life Insurance Company. Also relying on Fazio, a judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently held in Dings v. Lenhoff that there is no right to a jury trial of UTPCPL claims in federal court.

The practical effect of the Fazio decision is to reduce the settlement value of UTPCPL claims, as it eliminates the risk of a "runaway jury."

Ballard Spahr’s Consumer Financial Services Group advises on regulatory matters, assists in the design and documentation of credit products, and represents clients in class actions, regulatory enforcement proceedings, and other lawsuits nationwide. For more information, please contact Burt M. Rublin at 215.864.8116 or rublin@ballardspahr.com.


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