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Massachusetts law about consumer protection

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on consumer protection law.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.93A Regulation of Business Practices for Consumers' Protection
MGL c.176D Unfair Methods of Competition and Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices in the Business of Insurance

Massachusetts regulations

940 CMR 3 General regulations

Forms

Selected case law

Anderson v. National Union Fire Insurance Co., 476 Mass 377 (2017) 
Post judgment interest not part of damages trebled under chapter 93A.

Bridgwood v. A.J. Wood Construction, Inc., 480 Mass. 349 (2018)
The 6-year statute of repose in G. L. c. 260, § 2B can bar a MGL c.93A action for defective workmanship in home renovations if the claim is "sufficiently tort-like."

Duclersaint v. Federal National Mortgage Association, 427 Mass. 809, 696 NE2d 536 (1998)
"A practice may be deceptive if it reasonably could be found to have caused the plaintiff to act differently than he otherwise would have acted. However, a good faith dispute as to whether money is owed, or performance of some kind is due, in not the stuff of which a c.93A claim is made."

Feeney v. Dell, 454 Mass.192 (2009)
In a civil action challenging an order compelling arbitration pursuant to the terms of a consumer contract, this court ordered that the plaintiffs' complaint be dismissed without prejudice, on the ground that the plaintiffs' allegation that the defendant had erroneously collected sales tax attributable to the purchase of computer service contracts fell outside "the conduct of trade or commerce" as those terms are used in G. L. c. 93A, § 2 (a).

Greelish v. Drew, 35 Mass. App. Ct. 541, 622 NE2d 1376 (1993)
The court applied an amendment to Chapter 93A, which increased the potential damages available when an insurer engages in an unfair or deceptive act or practice. Previously, underlying insurance coverage was not included in the base damages subject to multiplication under Chapter 93A; this case determined that the underlying insurance coverage was to be included.

Haser v. Wright, 65 Mass. App. Ct. 903, 840 NE2d 63 (2005)
Parties who fail to request attorney fees in their briefs may be denied the ability to recover those fees.

Hopkins v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., 434 Mass. 556, 750 NE2d 943 (2001)
A claim against an insurance company for unfair settlement practices arising from a single act can constitute an actionable violation of Chapter 176D and Chapter 93A.

Klairmont v. Gainsboro Restaurant, Inc., 465 Mass. 165 (2013)
"A claim under G. L. c. 93A ...survived the death of the decedent, where it presented a cause of action that was substantively akin to the types of torts within the scope of the Massachusetts survival statute, G. L. c. 228, § 1."

Moronta v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC, 476 Mass. 1013 (Mass. 2016)
No demand letter is required under G. L. c. 93A, § 9 (3), where “the prospective respondent does not maintain a place of business … within the commonwealth,” regardless of whether it “keep[s] assets” here.

Piers v. Wheeler and Taylor, Inc., 8 Mass. Law Reporter 410 (1998)
"Representing to a buyer of a home that the property is free of lead-contaminated paint without verifying that fact constitutes willful misconduct subjecting the seller and the seller's real estate agent to multiple damages under c.93A."

Rafferty v. Merck & Co., Inc., 479 Mass. 141 (2018)
To sue under c. 93A, "[i]t suffices that the plaintiff used the product, even if it was sold to another, and was injured as a result."

Schubach v. Household Finance Corporation, 375 Mass. 133 (1978).
"Intentionally filing collection actions against consumers in inconvenient distant courts, with the purpose and effect of securing default judgments and gaining unfair advantage," may be an unfair and deceptive act under c.93A, "even though the company filed its actions in compliance with c. 223, Section 2." "We reject the argument that an act or practice which is authorized by statute can never be an unfair or deceptive act or practice under Section 2 (a) of G. L. c. 93A. The circumstances of each case must be analyzed, and unfairness is to be measured not simply by determining whether particular conduct is lawful apart from G. L. c. 93A but also by analyzing the effect of the conduct on the public."

Organizations

Massachusetts Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division
McCormack Building
1 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 727-8400

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
17 Park Plaza, Suite 5170
Boston, MA 02116
(888) 283-3757
Consumer Education
30 Day Demand Letter

Web sources

Consumer action handbook, Federal Citizen Information Center 2017.
Inside, you'll find helpful tips about banking, cars, credit, education, employment, health care, housing, identity theft, insurance, internet, phones, privacy, telemarketing, travel, TV, utilities, and wills/funerals. It also offers help in filing a consumer complaint.

Consumer information, Federal Trade Commission. 
Topics include Money & credit, Homes & mortgages, Health & fitness, Jobs & making money, Privacy & identity

Consumer rights for domestic violence survivors in Massachusetts, National Consumer Law Center, 2011
"The information in this packet is intended to help you: Separate your finances from your abuser; Deal with any existing debts; Stay financially independent in the future and avoid traps and scams; and Get more help and information with these issues."

Face to face mediation 
"The Attorney General's Office's Face-to-Face (FTF) Mediation Program, a more formal mediation process to help consumers resolve disputes."

How Mass. General Law 93A affects online businesses, E-Legal Lawyer, 2007
Great article on the application of 93A to online transactions

The Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law, Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.   
Explanation of the law, links to legal assistance and 30 day demand letter.

Responding to Chapter 93A demand letters in product liability cases, Mass. Bar Assn. Lawyers' Journal, January 2013.
Outlines best practices for responding to a demand letter.

Student-consumers: The application of Chapter 93A to higher education in Massachusetts, Boston Bar Journal, January 2013.
Discusses consumer fraud suits that have been brought against colleges and universities in Massachusetts.

Taking action on your own: Chapter 93A, Mass. Attorney General
Includes a description of the process and a sample 93A Demand Letter

Unfair and deceptive trade practices, Mass. Legal Help
Includes a summary of the law, examples of unfair or deceptive practices, and suggestions on what to do if you feel you have been victimized

USA.gov: Consumer issues, Federal Citizen Information Center
Site is packed with information on a wide variety of consumer topics, and includes valuable advice on where and how to file a complaint

Print sources

Chapter 93A and 176D bad faith update, by Brian A. O'Connell, et al., Mass. Bar Institute, 2009.

Chapter 93A rights and remedies, 3d ed., edited by Margot Botsford, MCLE, loose-leaf.

Chapter 93A: Dilution and confusion through overuse. Massachusetts Law Review August, 2017  98 Mass. L. Rev. 61 Tara J. Myslinski , Stephanie R. Parker

Massachusetts conveyancers' handbook with forms, 4th ed., by Edward G. Mendler, West Group, 2008 with supplement, sec. 5:4.

Massachusetts Practice:

Massachusetts proof of cases, Marc Perlin, West Thomson Reuters, annual. Ch. 9 and Ch. 30.4.

Massachusetts Superior Court civil practice jury instructions, MCLE, loose-leaf. Chapter 16, Consumer Protection Act - Chapter 93A

Consumer protection : exploring private causes of action for victims of data breaches, 41 W. New England Law Review 253, 2019.  

"Negligence is not enough: Darviros v. Petros," 49 Boston Bar Journal 6 (Mar.-Apr. 2005)

"Trustee liable under 93A for mishandling funds," 29 Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly 1461 (March 5, 2001)

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: July 29, 2020
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