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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 13A: Entitlement to rights, protections, privileges and immunities afforded under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act; action by person aggrieved by violations of this section; written demand for relief; award of costs of action

Section 13A. (a) As used in this section, the following terms shall, unless context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:—

''Military service'', shall have the same meaning as defined in the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. section 511 (2) and shall include duties performed under this chapter, the appropriate authority of another state or territory or Title 32 of the United States Code.

''Service member'', shall have the same meaning as defined in the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. section 511 (1) and shall include a member of the armed forces of the commonwealth, as defined in section 10, including the state defense force or similar organization composed as permitted by law, the state staff or the armed forces of another state or territory.

(b) All members of the armed forces of the commonwealth, including the state defense force or similar organization composed as permitted by law, the state staff and those who reside within the commonwealth pursuant to military service and all members of the armed forces of another state or territory who reside within the commonwealth, ordered to active duty under this chapter, appropriate authority of another state or territory or Title 32 of the United States Code shall be entitled to all rights, protections, privileges and immunities afforded under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, codified at 50 U.S.C. App. section 501 et seq., except for sections 536 and 541 to 549, inclusive, which pertain to life insurance, and except for the limitation of a cumulative 5 years of state military service, which shall instead be extended to 8 years of state military service.

(c) For the purposes of this section, the adjutant general of the commonwealth shall perform all duties assigned to the secretary concerned under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. section 501 et seq.

(d) For purposes of this section, the attorney general of the commonwealth shall perform all duties assigned to the attorney general of the United States under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. section 501 et seq.

(e) A person aggrieved by a violation of this section may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction whether by way of an original complaint, counter-claim, cross-claim or third party action for damages and equitable or declaratory relief, including an injunction, as the court deems necessary and proper.

(f) At least 30 days prior to filing an action pursuant to this section, a written demand for relief identifying the claimant as a service member entitled to relief under this section and reasonably describing the injury or harm suffered shall be mailed to any prospective respondent. Failure to respond within 30 days of receipt shall be deemed a denial of the demand. The demand requirements of this paragraph shall not apply if the claim is asserted by way of counterclaim or cross-claim.

(g) The court may award to a claimant who prevails in an action brought under this section the costs of the action, including reasonable attorney fees. If the court finds for the claimant, recovery shall be in the amount of actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater. If the court finds the complained of act was willful or knowing or that the refusal to grant relief upon demand was made in bad faith, with reason to know that the act complained of violated this section, then the recovery shall be the greater of $5,000 or 3 times the amount of the damages.

(h) Nothing in this section shall be construed to preclude or limit any other remedy otherwise available under law, including consequential and punitive damages or double or treble damages pursuant to chapter 93A.