ZIPped Back Up: Williams-Sonoma Gains Federal Dismissal Of New Jersey Consumer Privacy Claim in Feder


In Feder v. Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey joined the New Jersey Superior Court in weighing in on the issue of whether a retailer violates consumer privacy state law by requesting a customer's zip code at the point of purchase. Feder was brought by the same plaintiff’s lawyers and with claims similar to those in the state court case Imbert v. Harmon Stores, Inc.(Bed, Bath & Beyond). Imbert was decided last month, but without any written decision, and permitted that case to proceed past the pleading stage. The District Court in Feder, however, issued the first written opinion under the New Jersey statutes, finding that allegations that a zip code was verbally requested could not support a claim under New Jersey law.

Both Feder and Imbert involved plaintiffs suing under New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (“TCCWNA”), alleging that a store’s requirement that customers provide their zip codes during a credit card transaction violates their rights under the TCCWNA. The TCCNWA prohibits a seller from "offering, entering into, giving or displaying a written consumer contract or notice that violates a clearly established right of the consumer." N.J. Stat. Ann. 56: 12-15. As a predicate for the TCCNWA claim, both Feder and Imbert relied on the Restrictions on Information Required to Complete Credit Card Transactions ("Restriction Statute"). The Restriction Statute prohibits a retailer from requiring a customer to provide "personal identification information" to complete a credit card transaction, thus providing the basis for violation of a "clearly established consumer right."

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