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Triple damages under MA consumer protection law

I sent the demand letter and I'm waiting to hear back from a mechanic that ripped me off. If they give any kind of a response, does that mean I'm no longer entitled to triple damages under the consumer protection law (93A)?

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The answer to your question depends heavily on the specific circumstances and how a particular court or judge decides to deal with them.  If the merchant responds with what a court later determines was a "reasonable offer" and you reject it, then the court may limit your damages to the merchant's initial offer.  Even if the court decides the settlement offer was not reasonable, it may decide to limit your recovery to your actual damages.

Consumers are most likely to get triple damages when the merchant does not respond, or when the merchant responds but the court finds that the merchant  (1) engaged in business practices that violated the consumer protection law in a "Willful or knowing" manner and (2) refused to make a good faith offer of settlement in response to a demand letter.  Chapter 93A is designed to encourage responses to demand letters and to reward parties that make reasonable offers of settlement.  So a merchant can limit her exposure to triple damages by responding to a demand letter with an offer of settlement that is reasonable "in relation to the injury actually suffered by the plaintiff," the person who writes the demand letter and then rejects a reasonable offer may have her damages limited to the amount previously offered by the merchant in settlement.  See M.G.L Chapter 93A, Section 9. 

For more information or to post a question, visit our MA Consumer Law Discussion Forum.  Good luck.


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