Although the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the judicial process in Massachusetts, cases are still going forward. I’m pleased to write that I obtained two favorable decisions for Consumer Protection Law cases: one in state court and the other in federal court.
I didn’t win these cases . . . yet. Rather, I prevailed against the opposing sides’ attempt to dismiss each matter at the start of the case, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
My opposition argued that our lawsuits didn’t have any merit, and should be dismissed at the onset of the case. The courts, however, agreed with me that my clients had viable lawsuits and were entitled to their day in court.
These cases, which concern issues of foreclosure defense, can and will be dismissed by courts if not properly drafted. In both cases, I faced opposition from two excellent attorneys who served their clients well.
What is the Consumer Protection Law?
The Consumer Protection Law, also known as “Chapter 93A”, protects consumers from “unfair and deceptive business practices.” There are several laws that fall under Chapter 93A, but the relevant portion for consumers is Section 9.
Chapter 93A has an incredibly broad reach, and covers nearly every area of law that can impact consumers. While my cases discussed above concern foreclosure, Chapter 93A often comes up in landlord-tenant disputes, debt collection matters, and a myriad of other consumer issues.
“Unfair and deceptive business practices” under this law is purposely broad and can cover an infinite number of violations. Moreover, the Attorney General is permitted to issue regulations that make certain practices automatic violations of Chapter 93A.
Benefits of the Consumer Protection Law
Because the Consumer Protection Law is broad, it can be used for many types of misconduct that are not otherwise violations of the law. Chapter 93A, importantly, also includes equitable powers, which allows a court to do more than just issue monetary damages.
A prevailing party under Chapter 93A, under the right circumstances, is also entitled to attorney fees.
Chapter 93A, importantly, allows courts to impose penalties on parties who refuse to settle cases that should be resolved without a lawsuit. This provides a strong incentive for parties to settle cases on their own.
Preparing a Chapter 93A case needs to be done properly. Even before a lawsuit is file, a claimant (in most cases) needs to serve a demand letter to the opposing party, in an attempt to resolve the dispute prior to court. Once a case is filed, a claimant must be sure to make a strong case that the other side violated this law.
If you need assistance with such a matter, contact me for a consultation.