Washington Law Review


In Hangman Ridge Training Stables v. Safeco Title Insurance Co., the Washington Supreme Court established a new test for plaintiffs to meet in pursuing a private right of action under Washington's Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The court set forth a substantially revised method for establishing public interest impact for private CPA actions. In addition, the court abolished its earlier distinction between per se and de facto CPA violations. All private plaintiffs must now meet the same test. This Note examines the legal background for private CPA actions prior to Hangman Ridge. The Note observes that the Hangman Ridge test is consistent with the statutory language creating a private CPA action. The Note then analyzes the court's attempt to clarify the means of establishing private actions under the CPA in two areas: First, the new method for proving public interest; and second, the modification of the use of the term "per se" in the context of the CPA. The Note concludes that the court's new factors for establishing public interest are inconsistent and confusing. The court's modification of the use of the term "per se," however, provides clarity and certainty by deferring to legislative intent. The Note recommends that the court redefine the public interest factors in the new test to increase certainty for plaintiffs and defendants. The court's modification of the term "per se," however, should remain as set forth in Hangman Ridge, with some clarification.

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