Washington Law Review


Under Washington's Consumer Protection Act (CPA), parties must prove proximate cause to prevail in a private cause of action for damages. Proximate cause requires proof of cause in fact and legal causation. Traditionally, in a case in which a person has disseminated an affirmative representation in an attempt to induce a consumer to purchase a product, reliance provides evidence of cause in fact. Washington courts have not decided, however, which party has the burden of proving or disproving reliance. They also have not decided whether indirect proof of reliance is sufficient for proving cause in fact. This Comment argues that Washington courts should adopt a rebuttable presumption of causation in affirmative misrepresentation cases under the CPA on proof that a misrepresentation is material, widely disseminated, and that the consumer bought the product following the misrepresentation. The rebuttable presumption of causation best furthers the intent of the legislature because it is the test that federal courts use, it protects consumers, and it does not burden trade or commerce.

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