PART 1: This is the first in a series of articles.
Pennsylvania’s statutes contain 79 different titles, each of which has its own chapters (some with subchapters) and statutory sections, comprising thousands of different laws. There are also rules of procedure for civil, criminal, juvenile, and appellate practice, rules of evidence, and rules of professional conduct, to name a few. It is virtually impossible for a person to be cognizant of all of these rules and regulations.
However, for each legal dilemma, there very well may be a law to address the situation. This article is the first in a three part series to provide information on laws that you may not have known exist. The next part will address criminal/traffic laws, and the final part will address real estate laws. The laws below address trade and commerce as provided in Title 73.
- For the Love of Money
In Pennsylvania, cash is king. Pennsylvania has a Cash Consumer Protection Act on the books set forth at 73 P.S. §§ 204-1, et seq. Under this statute, “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to rent or sell property or services to any individual for the reason that the individual does not possess a credit card.” Id. at § 204-3. Although, “[n]othing in this section requires the acceptance of any particular form of payment” id., [a] person may, prior to providing property or services to an individual who does not possess a credit card, demand and receive reasonable security from the individual to secure payment for the property or services requested [and such] [r]easonable security may take the form of a payment in cash,” id. at § 204-4.
The Attorney General and district attorneys are permitted to seek injunctive relief for a violation the Cash Consumer Protection Act. Id. at § 204-5. Monetary damages can include payment of costs and restitution, id. at § 204-6, a civil penalty of up $1,000 for each violation, id. at § 204-8(a), or treble (3x) damages plus attorneys’ fees in private actions, id. at § 204-9(a). Although there is no case law interpreting this statute, the probable implications are that: (a) merchants in Pennsylvania should be prepared to accept payments in cash for goods or services; and (b) consumers should be confident carrying cash instead of credit cards.
- Time Is On My Side
Anyone who sells a watch that is not brand new must label it as such. Pursuant to 73 P.S. § 241, “[a]ny person who sells, exchanges, offers to sell, or exchange, exposes or displays for sale, or exchange, or possesses, with intent to sell, or exchange, a second-hand watch, shall affix and keep affixed to the same a tag with the words ‘second-hand’ legibly written or printed thereon in the English language.” This applies to advertisements for watches as well. 73 P.S. § 243. A second-hand watch seller must also “deliver to the [buyer] a written invoice, setting forth the name and address of the [seller], the name and address of the [buyer], the date of the sale, the name of the watch or its maker, and the serial numbers, if any, or other distinguishing numbers, or identification marks on its case and movement.” Id. at § 242. Violation is a misdemeanor criminal offense punishable by up to a one (1) year imprisonment and a $500 fine. Id. at § 244.
- For Those About To Rock, We Salute You
Cover bands beware. Under Pennsylvania’s Truth in Music Advertising Act, “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person to advertise or conduct a live musical performance or production in this Commonwealth through the use of a false, deceptive or misleading affiliation, connection or association between a performing group and a recording group.” 73 P.S. § 613. The five exceptions to this rule are:
(1) The performing group is the authorized registrant and owner of a Federal service mark for that group registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
(2) At least one member of the performing group was a member of the recording group and has a legal right by virtue of use or operation under the group name without having abandoned the name or affiliation with the group.
(3) The live musical performance or production is identified in all advertising and promotion as a salute or tribute.
(4) The advertising does not relate to a live musical performance or production taking place in this Commonwealth.
(5) The performance or production is expressly authorized by the recording group.
For cover bands to not run afoul of this statute, the key is to specifically identify themselves as a “salute” or “tribute” band as provided in the safe harbor exception of Section 613(3). The Attorney General and district attorneys are empowered to seek injunctive relief to prevent violations of this statute. Id. at § 614(a). That could be a potential show-stopper. A violation could also result in the payment of costs and restitution, id. at § 614(b) (i.e. ticket, album, and/or merchandise sales), or a civil penalty between $5,000 and $15,000 per violation, id. at § 615.
The attorneys at Sebring & Associates are familiar with consumer protection laws. If you have a question, please contact us for a consultation.
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