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LA City Attorney Accuses Macy's, Sears, JC Penney, Kohl's Of Deceptive Pricing

LOS ANGELES ( — Macy's, Sears, JC Penney and Kohl's are the targets of a lawsuit the Los Angeles City Attorney says he filed Thursday over deceptive advertising practices.

City Attorney Mike Feuer says the retailers falsely advertised high "list" or "regular" prices on merchandise that was never actually available at that price, leading customers to believe they were getting a better bargain with the "sale" price than they actually were, according to the lawsuit.

"When is a discount not really a discount? When is a sale not really a sale?" Feuer asked Thursday in announcing the four lawsuits.

RELATED: CBS2 Investigates Questionable Price Tags At Several Kohl's Department Stores

California law bans retailers from advertising a higher original price unless a product was actually available at that price within three months of the ad running.

"How hard is it for any individual consumer to enforce this? It's almost impossible, so this is why it falls to us on behalf of the people of the state to take an action like this," Feuer said.

The suits will seek civil penalties and injunctions to prohibit such pricing.

Just last year, class-action lawsuits were filed against JC Penney and Kohl's, accusing them of tricking customers by inflating original prices. JC Penney eventually settled the suit for $50 million in cash and store credit to customers, and Kohl's agreed to pay $6.15 million.

Feuer said that JC Penny's and Kohl's represented to courts in the class-action suits that they would not engage in false reference pricing, "But we allege that they continue to do it anyway."

Representatives of Macy's, J.C. Penny and Kohl's did not respond to requests for comment and a representative of Sears declined to comment.

Related: More Than You Bargained For: See How Discounters Arrive At Comparison Prices

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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