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Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute, Chapter 93A Used Against Lawyers

We see many cases involving legal malpractice and we often file a lawsuit under the 93A Consumer Protection law. In a recent case, Boston University Professor Barry Unger sued his attorney Patricia Lambert, saying that the $230,000 he transferred to her was a loan, for real estate investment, which was to be repaid with interest.

Attorney Lambert repaid some of the money but claimed that $55,000 was for an investment partnership. The jury found that Attorney Lambert was acting as an attorney, not a partner, and made “material misrepresentations” violating her ethical responsibilities to her client. Further, the jury found that the misrepresentations “constituted willful and knowing violations of [the Consumer Protection Statute, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter] 93A which entitle Unger to double damages.” The jury found that Unger was “damaged” in the amount of his attorney fees, necessary to recover the lost moneys against Attorney Lambert. Unger had a 40% fee agreement with his attorney, suing Lambert. The Court then doubled the attorney fees and added costs.

The Appeals Court reversed the trial court on the issue of 93A stating that the deceptive acts were not “separate and apart from the losses associated” with his actual claim. However, the Appeals Court did allow Unger to receive a nominal award plus “reasonable attorney fees and costs.”