Washington Case Law Update: Contract Cannot Bar CPA Claim
From the desk of Kyle Riley: Under Washington law, contract provisions are generally enforceable unless they conflict with another law or public policy. Washington’s Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”) provides a private right of action to allow an individual citizen to enforce the CPA’s protections against unfair or deceptive acts. But when a contract disclaims liability under the CPA, what is the result? Read on to find out.
Claims Pointer: In this case arising out the auction of the contents of a storage unit, the Washington Court of Appeals held that a limitation provision that seriously impairs a plaintiff from asserting a private CPA claim violates public policy. The case is an important notice that parties cannot avoid liability under the CPA via contractual provisions.
Riley v. Iron Gate Self Storage, No. 47905-2-II, Washington Court of Appeals, Div. II (April 18, 2017)
In December 2003, Larry Riley (“Riley”) rented a storage unit from Iron Gate Self Storage (“Iron Gate”). The rental agreement included a cap of approximately $5,000 on the value of personal property to be stored in the unit, as well as a limitation on liability and a $5,000 cap on damages. The agreement also required the occupant to maintain an insurance policy covering at least the actual cash value of any stored personal property. Riley elected to self-insure, and he initialed each section to indicate he understood the terms of the agreement.
Over the course of the lease, Riley often fell behind on his rent payments, and Iron Gate sent past due notices in May, June, and July 2010. Iron Gate sent a pre-lien notice to Riley on May 21. On June 24, it notified Riley that it intended to cut his lock, and a week later, it sent Riley certified notice of a lien. Then, on July 8, 2010, Iron Gate mailed Riley a notice of auction. On July 15, 2010, it auctioned the contents of Riley’s unit, and the winning bidder paid less...