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Vol. 2010-08 | August, 2010

Consumer Sales Practices Act (“CSPA”)

The Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act “CSPA”, was enacted to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive and unconscionable acts or practices by suppliers. The Act defines which business practices are legal or illegal, and including what suppliers can and cannot represent in advertisements. It also describes action that may be taken by the Attorney General of Ohio where violations are reported in consumer complaints.

The Act includes: “.a sale, lease, assignment, award by chance, or other transfer of an item of goods, a service, franchise, or an intangible, to an individual for purposes that are primarily personal, family, or household, or solicitation to supply any of these things.”

In one recent case decided by the Courts, the complaint included “shoddy and unworkmanlike services” and the actions the builder “took in delaying the construction of the” residence. “Ohio courts have held that CSPA applies to contracts to build a home because these transactions involve the purchase of services rather than simply the purchase of real estate.” DeLutis v. Ashwort Home Builders, Inc., 9th Dist. No. 24302, 2009-Ohio-1052, at ΒΆ8.

However, while CSPA is inapplicable to the sale of an existing home, it would apply to that portion of an agreement that involved the (new) construction of additional structures and other services provided by the builder or contractor.

Unfair or deceptive acts or practices are prohibited by R.C. 1345.02. In order to ascertain whether an act violates R.C. 1345.02(A), one must look to three sources. R.C. 1345.02(B) enumerates practices which are deceptive and unfair.

Furthermore, as outlined in R.C. 1345.05(B)(2), the Attorney General of Ohio is authorized to “adopt substantive rules defining with reasonable specificity acts or

practices that violate sections 1345.02, 1345.03, and 1345.031 of the Revised Code”; these rules are found in the Ohio Administrative Code. The courts of Ohio have also defined acts and practices considered to be deceptive and unfair. See, e.g., Frey v. Vin Devers, Inc. (1992), 80 Ohio.App.3d 1, 6; Fletcher v. Don Foss of Cleveland, Inc. (1993), 90 Ohio.App.3d 82, 86.

Furthermore, R.C. 1345.03(B) outlines the factors to be taken into consideration when determining whether an act or practice is unconscionable.

See: DeCola v. Pete Wing Contracting, Inc., 2010-Ohio-2283, 2009-A-0012 (CA11, ASHTABULA, Decided May 21, 2010).

Experienced legal Counsel should be consulted to advise and assist in all real estate transactions, to insure consumer protection in all such important undertakings and purchases.

“There are two sides to every question: my side and the wrong side.”
Oscar Levant

AUTHOR / EDITOR: J. NORMAN STARK is an Attorney-at-Law, a Registered Architect, (AIA, NCARB) Registered Landscape Architect, Interior Designer, Planner and Senior Appraiser (ASA), admitted to practice law before the Bar of Ohio, the US District Courts, Ohio and Illinois (Central Dist.), the US Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. He is a Mediator, Arbitrator and Litigator with experience in Business, Construction Law, and Public Works, and with additional experience in Real Estate, Construction Attorney (Legal Project and Crisis Management), and as an Expert Witness (Forensic Architect). His office is in Cleveland, Ohio.