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General Laws

Section 11. Any person who engages in the conduct of any trade or commerce and who suffers any loss of money or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by another person who engages in any trade or commerce of an unfair method of competition or an unfair or deceptive act or practice declared unlawful by section two or by any rule or regulation issued under paragraph (c) of section two may, as hereinafter provided, bring an action in the superior court, or in the housing court as provided in section three of chapter one hundred and eighty-five C, whether by way of original complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party action for damages and such equitable relief, including an injunction, as the court deems to be necessary and proper.

Such person, if he has not suffered any loss of money or property, may obtain such an injunction if it can be shown that the aforementioned unfair method of competition, act or practice may have the effect of causing such loss of money or property.

Any persons entitled to bring such action may, if the use or employment of the unfair method of competition or the unfair or deceptive act or practice has caused similar injury to numerous other persons similarly situated and if the court finds in a preliminary hearing that he adequately and fairly represents such other persons, bring the action on behalf of himself and such other similarly injured and situated persons; the court shall require that notice of such action be given to unnamed petitioners in the most effective, practicable manner. Such action shall not be dismissed, settled or compromised without the approval of the court, and notice of any proposed dismissal, settlement or compromise shall be given to all members of the class of petitioners in such a manner as the court directs.

A person may assert a claim under this section in a district court, whether by way of original complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party action, for money damages only. Said damages may include double or treble damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, as hereinafter provided, with provision for tendering by the person against whom the claim is asserted of a written offer of settlement for single damages, also as hereinafter provided. No rights to equitable relief shall be created under this paragraph, nor shall a person asserting such claim be able to assert any claim on behalf of other similarly injured and situated persons as provided in the preceding paragraph. The provisions of sections ninety-five to one hundred and ten, inclusive, of chapter two hundred and thirty-one, where applicable, shall apply to a claim under this section, except that the provisions for remand, removal and transfer shall be controlled by the amount of single damages claimed hereunder.

If the court finds for the petitioner, recovery shall be in the amount of actual damages; or up to three, but not less than two, times such amount if the court finds that the use or employment of the method of competition or the act or practice was a willful or knowing violation of said section two. For the purposes of this chapter, the amount of actual damages to be multiplied by the court shall be the amount of the judgment on all claims arising out of the same and underlying transaction or occurrence regardless of the existence or nonexistence of insurance coverage available in payment of the claim. In addition, the court shall award such other equitable relief, including an injunction, as it deems to be necessary and proper. The respondent may tender with his answer in any such action a written offer of settlement for single damages. If such tender or settlement is rejected by the petitioner, and if the court finds that the relief tendered was reasonable in relation to the injury actually suffered by the petitioner, then the court shall not award more than single damages.

If the court finds in any action commenced hereunder, that there has been a violation of section two, the petitioner shall, in addition to other relief provided for by this section and irrespective of the amount in controversy, be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in said action.

In any action brought under this section, in addition to the provisions of paragraph (b) of section two, the court shall also be guided in its interpretation of unfair methods of competition by those provisions of chapter ninety-three known as the Massachusetts Antitrust Act.

No action shall be brought or maintained under this section unless the actions and transactions constituting the alleged unfair method of competition or the unfair or deceptive act or practice occurred primarily and substantially within the commonwealth. For the purposes of this paragraph, the burden of proof shall be upon the person claiming that such transactions and actions did not occur primarily and substantially within the commonwealth.

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