UnZIPped in New Jersey?


A New Jersey state trial court has initially weighed in on the issue of whether a retailer violates state law by requesting a customer’s zip code at the point of purchase. In a case fashioned after the California Supreme Court's decision in Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma, 51 Cal.4th 524 (Feb. 10, 2011), New Jersey Superior Court Judge Stephan Hansbury has denied a motion to dismiss brought by Harmon Stores, Inc. (Bed, Bath & Beyond), finding that the plaintiff Robert Imbert adequately pled a claim for violation of New Jersey's Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act, N.J.S.A. 56:11-17 (“TCCWNA”). The Court's ruling allows plaintiff to proceed beyond this initial stage, but no liability has been found.

In the matter of Imbert v. Harmon Stores, Inc., plaintiff Robert Imbert filed a complaint against Harmon Stores, Inc., alleging that Harmon Stores violated the TCCWNA by requesting his and other customers’ zip codes at the point of sale. The allegations in the complaint (which are virtually the same as the allegations set forth in California cases) assert that Harmon Stores’ practice of requiring a customer’s zip code at the point of sale violates the New Jersey Restrictions on Information Required to Complete Credit Card Transactions (the “Restriction Statute”), which prohibits a retailer from requiring a customer to provide “personal identification information” to complete the credit card transaction. The Restriction Statute is only directly enforceable by the state Attorney General. However, plaintiff has alleged that a violation of the Restriction Statute, in turn, violates the TCCWNA’s prohibition against “enter[ing] into any written consumer contract or giv[ing] or display[ing] any written consumer warranty, notice or sign . . . which includes any provision that violates any clearly established legal right of a consumer or responsibility of a seller, lessor, creditor, lender or bailee as established by State or Federal law . . .” which does provide for a private right of action. In issuing his ruling from the bench, Judge Hansbury held that, as pled, the transaction appears to qualify as a written consumer contract within the meaning of the TCCWNA. The judge's reasoning in reaching this limited conclusion is not specifically known as no written opinion was issued. This decision appears to be the first decision outside of the State of California where a court has held that a retailer could potentially be held liable under state law for requesting a customer’s zip code at the point of sale.

Please see full article below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP on:

JD Supra Readers' Choice 2016 Awards
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.