Campbell v. Asbury Automotive, Inc.

381 S.W.3d 21 (2011)


Charles and Carol Palasack (Ps) filed a class-action complaint against D, alleging That D charged an illegal document preparation fee for preparing a vehicle installment contract (a legal instrument) for the purchase of a vehicle. Ps contend that the fee constituted the unauthorized practice of law and that the retention of the fee violated the ADTPA resulting in unjust enrichment. The circuit court granted class certification. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment, and the circuit court granted summary judgment to P, ruling that the documentary fee charged 'includes compensation for time spent preparing or filling in the blanks on legal documents and therefore constitutes the unauthorized practice of law and is illegal.' It also found that to the extent Ark. Code Ann. § 23-112-315 and § 23-112-612 authorize car dealers to prepare documents affecting the legal rights of others for a fee, it is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers doctrine. The circuit court granted D's motion for summary judgment for immunity from liability, based on the defense of good-faith reliance, 'as to the protected time periods between the effective date of the statute until November 21, 2006.' It also granted D's motion on P's claim for unjust enrichment. Everyone appealed. D claims in part that the ADTPA does not provide a private right of action for the unauthorized practice of law. D claims that only this court may regulate the practice of law, authorized or unauthorized, and, therefore, the General Assembly may not create a statutory cause of action, such as under the ADTPA, for the unauthorized practice of law.