Under the Massachusetts consumer protection statute, consumers who feel they were wronged through an unfair or deceptive trade practice have to follow certain requirements, including sending a Chapter 93A demand letter. As a business in Massachusetts, responding to these letters correctly and appropriately is critical to protecting your rights and in minimizing, if not eliminating, future potential damages against you or your business.
If your company has received a 93A demand letter, the Katz Law Group has the years of experience needed to help you appropriately respond in a way that best protects your interests and your rights.
How To Respond to the 93A Demand Letter
Filing a response within the appropriate deadline is a critical part of complying with the law, and ensuring the rights of your business are protected. A demand letter must meet certain specifications, which are outlined in detail here.
Businesses are required to respond to this letter within 30 days of receipt. This is not a situation where it is simply a suggestion or best practice; failure to respond to a 93A demand letter may have serious consequences. The first step in responding to this letter is to contact the attorneys at the Katz Law Group, who have the knowledge and experience to handle these matters efficiently and correctly.
If the business fails to respond within the 30-day window, the business cannot limit its damages down the road. This could result in double or even triple damages being awarded to the plaintiff, damages your business would likely not otherwise suffer if you responded correctly to the demand letter.
What to Do (and What Not to Do)
Some helpful tips on how to handle the receipt of a 93A demand letter:
1. Do Not Assume the Claim is Valid
Just because a Chapter 93A letter is sent by a consumer, even when represented by an attorney, it does not mean that the claim behind it is valid. In fact, a great many claims are just "hunting" for a settlement, when the company has done absolutely nothing wrong and owes nothing. Instead, analyze each demand letter on its merits. Conduct an investigation into the claims, and look for accuracy (or inaccuracy) in the facts recited by the potential plaintiff.
The Chapter 93A letter is the beginning step of litigation, so it is important to reach out to your attorney to help you evaluate the potential claim.
2. Evaluate the Potential Damages
Look at the demand, and begin to determine if the requested damages are even close to the actual damages a person could likely obtain at trial. The requested damages are often purposely high in order to create fear of taking the case to court or to seek a higher than the deserved settlement offer.
Within the 30 day period, you can request additional information about the consumer's claim, and request specific details related to it. While an extension of the 30 day period can be granted with the permission of the consumer, it is critical to file within the appropriate deadline to avoid the risk of double or triple damages down the road.
3. The "Reasonable" Settlement Offer
Once you and your attorney have analyzed the merits of the consumer's claim, the business must determine whether it will make a reasonable settlement offer to the claimant. This is important, because if the plaintiff turns down the offer, and the court later determines the offer was reasonable, the plaintiff's damages may be limited to the original settlement offer.
This could save your business from an overly high jury award, or even the double and triple damages. A reasonable settlement offer also demonstrates good faith to the court, which creates a situation where the court will be more likely to limit any awards in excess of the original reasonable settlement offer. This is not a determination you have to make alone, our attorneys have the years of experience with these cases to help you make an appropriate settlement offer.
4. Keep All Evidence When You Receive the Letter
When you receive a demand letter, make sure to keep all documents, the letter, the envelope, everything related to the case. Every document can be important, and you should provide this information to your Massachusetts business litigation attorney as soon as possible. The more information your attorney has the better he can represent your interests.
Consult a Massachusetts Consumer Protection Attorney
If a Chapter 93A letter has been filed against your business, the Katz Law Group can help you respond appropriately to protect your business' rights. Contact us today for a consultation.