Consumer Protection-Mass. General Law 93A
Massachusetts has a consumer-friendly law commonly referred to as 93A. This reference is to the Massachusetts General Laws chapter itself. 93A offers consumer protection to both individuals, Section 9, and businesses, Section 11. The consumer protection law in Massachusetts is widely considered a very consumer friendly provision and in many circumstances the courts have agreed.
The consumer protection law focuses upon protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive acts or practices by a business. The definition of what constitutes an unfair and deceptive act or practice is made on a case-by-case basis, and the ultimate focus is upon the behavior and acts of the business involved. In limited circumstances the Massachusetts Attorney General has defined unfair and deceptive acts in certain circumstances. For example, the Massachusetts Lemon Law concerning vehicle sales has been defined as unfair and deceptive by the Massachusetts Attorney General.
93A is a protection afforded to both individual and business consumers. The standard reviewed by a judge in the business to business context is higher when compared to that of an individual consumer and business. However, the law does offer similar protection for unfair and deceptive acts.
In an individual consumer case a 93A claim is brought initially by providing the business with a 93A demand letter. This letter will explain what the consumer is alleging were unfair and deceptive acts and practices by the business, the damages suffered by the consumer, and a monetary demand upon the business. The business will be afforded a thirty-day window to respond to the consumer. Additionally, the business is afforded the ability to counter the consumer’s 93A demand with a fair and reasonable settlement proposal. The consumer then determines whether to accept the proposal or to file a lawsuit.
A consumer protection violation under 93A is in itself its own claim in a potential lawsuit. In most circumstances it is one of a multitude of claims brought against a business. For example, 93A is typically a secondary count in a breach of contract action brought against a business. While other civil counts can be decided by a jury, a 93A count is decided solely a judge.
Damage awards under 93A can be substantial. If a consumer is successful under 93A the consumer can recover the full amount of damages, plus up to two or three times that amount if the business’s violation was willful. Further, the consumer can potentially have the consumer’s attorney fees and costs associated with bringing the lawsuit fully reimbursed. When determining if a successful consumer is entitled to multiple damages under 93A, a judge will analyze whether the business made a reasonable settlement proposal within the thirty-day period mentioned above. If the judge determines the proposal was reasonable then the consumer is not entitled to multiple damages.
If you believe that you have been harmed by the willful and deceptive acts or practices of a business contact Lake Shore Legal today. Our attorneys can guide you through the steps necessary under 93A. Further, in many circumstances if you are successful under your 93A claim your attorney’s fees can be recovered. Our attorneys have experience handling and defending 93A claims and are more than willing to answer your questions concerning your consumer protection. Contact Lake Shore Legal today. (508) 943-7800; firstname.lastname@example.org
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