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New Jersey lawmakers deregulate consumer products

New Jersey regulators at the Division of Consumer Affairs have changed the rules, leading many consumer safety advocates concerned. The new rule will allow companies that provide consumer services and goods to apply for waivers to regulations. The change was made in an executive order by the governor several years ago and has just gone into effect.

Violation of regulations or other types of laws are often used as evidence of wrongdoing in personal injury cases. For example, a consumer who is injured by a by contamination in food products may look to any health and safety regulation violations to support their claim that the seller of the food was negligent.

Critics of the plan say that this would allow service providers in New Jersey to cut corners with no accountability to consumers for injuries that are caused. Some have said that without uniform regulation, New Jersey will not be as consumer-friendly as it is today.

In order to be granted a waiver, business must show the agency that the regulation is burdensome without benefit. A spokesperson from the governor’s office said that consumers will not be hugely affected by this change and that it is intended to make New Jersey more business-friendly.

There is some concern that waivers would be granted in ways that may endanger public safety.

An area of particular concern is the construction industry. The waiver system may allow a contractor to avoid disclosing materials used in a building project. This may make it harder for a customer to sue the company if the building collapses or otherwise malfunctions.

Source: New Jersey Star-Ledger, “N.J. introduces waiver that critics say could erode consumer protection,” Seth Augenstein, April 27, 2012.

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