Missouri has not adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Deceptive trade practices in the state are dealt under Chapter 407 and 570 of the Missouri Statutes. Chapter 407 deals with ‘merchandising practices’ and 570 with ‘stealing and related offences.’
Section 407.020 makes false advertisements an unlawful practice and persons who willfully engage in such acts will be guilty of Class D felony. Sections 570.160 and 570.170 prohibit false and bait advertisements and such advertisements are classified as Class A misdemeanor.
Pursuant to Section 407.025, any individual consumer, who has suffered loss or damage, may bring an action against another person for use or employment of deceptive practices prohibited in the Chapter. In such actions, the Court may award punitive damages and proper equitable relief. The prevailing party may be awarded attorney fees. Under Section 407.025 class action is also permitted.
By the authority of Section 407.100, an Attorney General may bring an action against any person for any violation of the provisions of this Chapter. Upon such actions, the court may grant injunctions, restitution, temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, temporary receivers, and confiscate any funds or accounts if the court finds that funds or property may be hidden or removed from the state. Court may also award a civil penalty not exceeding $1000. There are no civil penalties for violations resulting from bonafide error. Under section 407.110, a civil penalty not exceeding $5000 per violation will be imposed on any person who violates the terms of an injunction, restitution order or any other order or judgment.
Tampering with an odometer by disconnecting, resetting or altering the odometer, with the intent to defraud, thereby changing the number of actual miles traveled is a crime of odometer fraud in the second degree, which is a Class D felony.
§ 407.020 R.S.Mo.
Unlawful practices, penalty — exceptions
1. The act, use or employment by any person of any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practice or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise in trade or commerce or the solicitation of any funds for any charitable purpose, as defined in section 407.453, in or from the state of Missouri, is declared to be an unlawful practice. The use by any person, in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise in trade or commerce or the solicitation of any funds for any charitable purpose, as defined in section 407.453, in or from the state of Missouri of the fact that the attorney general has approved any filing required by this chapter as the approval, sanction or endorsement of any activity, project or action of such person, is declared to be an unlawful practice. Any act, use or employment declared unlawful by this subsection violates this subsection whether committed before, during or after the sale, advertisement or solicitation.
3. Any person who willfully and knowingly engages in any act, use, employment or practice declared to be unlawful by this section with the intent to defraud shall be guilty of a class D felony.
§ 407.025 R.S.Mo.
Civil action to recover damages — class actions authorized, when — procedure
1. Any person who purchases or leases merchandise primarily for personal, family or household purposes and thereby suffers an ascertainable loss of money or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by another person of a method, act or practice declared unlawful by section 407.020, may bring a private civil action in either the circuit court of the county in which the seller or lessor resides or in which the transaction complained of took place, to recover actual damages. The court may, in its discretion, award punitive damages and may award to the prevailing party attorney’s fees, based on the amount of time reasonably expended, and may provide such equitable relief as it deems necessary or proper.
2. Persons entitled to bring an action pursuant to subsection 1 of this section may, if the unlawful method, act or practice has caused similar injury to numerous other persons, institute an action as representative or representatives of a class against one or more defendants as representatives of a class, and the petition shall allege such facts as will show that these persons or the named defendants specifically named and served with process have been fairly chosen and adequately and fairly represent the whole class, to recover damages as provided for in subsection 1 of this section. The plaintiff shall be required to prove such allegations, unless all of the members of the class have entered their appearance, and it shall not be sufficient to prove such facts by the admission or admissions of the defendants who have entered their appearance. In any action brought pursuant to this section, the court may in its discretion order, in addition to damages, injunction or other equitable relief and reasonable attorney’s fees.
§ 407.100 R.S.Mo.
Injunction–temporary restraining orders–receivers–restitution, when–civil penalty–venue–restitution funds payable to injured parties but interest payable to general revenue
1. Whenever it appears to the attorney general that a person has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in any method, act, use, practice or solicitation, or any combination thereof, declared to be unlawful by this chapter, the attorney general may seek and obtain, in an action in a circuit court, an injunction prohibiting such person from continuing such methods, acts, uses, practices, or solicitations, or any combination thereof, or engaging therein, or doing anything in furtherance thereof.
2. In any action under subsection 1 of this section, and pursuant to the provisions of the Missouri Rules of Civil Procedure, the attorney general may seek and obtain temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, temporary receivers, and the sequestering of any funds or accounts if the court finds that funds or property may be hidden or removed from the state or that such orders or injunctions are otherwise necessary.
4. The court, in its discretion, may enter an order of restitution, payable to the state, as may be necessary to restore to any person who has suffered any ascertainable loss, including, but not limited to, any moneys or property, real or personal, which may have been acquired by means of any method, act, use, practice or solicitation, or any combination thereof, declared to be unlawful by this chapter. It shall be the duty of the attorney general to distribute such funds to those persons injured. Such funds may or may not be interest-bearing accounts, but any interest which accrues to any such account shall be sent at least annually by the attorney general to the director of revenue to be deposited in the state treasury to the credit of the state general revenue fund.
6. The court may award to the state a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars per violation; except that, if the person who would be liable for such penalty shows, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a violation resulted from a bona fide error notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adopted to avoid the error, no civil penalties shall be imposed.
§ 407.110 R.S.Mo.
Violation of injunction or restitution order, civil penalty
Any person who violates the terms of an injunction, an order to make restitution, or any other judgment or order issued under section 407.100 shall forfeit and pay to the state a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars per violation. For the purposes of this section, the circuit court of a county issuing an injunction or restitutionary order shall retain jurisdiction, and the cause shall be continued, and in such cases the attorney general acting in the name of the state may petition for recovery of civil penalties.
§ 570.160 R.S.Mo.
1. A person commits the crime of false advertising if, in connection with the promotion of the sale of, or to increase the consumption of, property or services, he recklessly makes or causes to be made a false or misleading statement in any advertisement addressed to the public or to a substantial number of persons.
2. False advertising is a class A misdemeanor.
§ 570.170 R.S.Mo.
1. A person commits the crime of bait advertising if he advertises in any manner the sale of property or services with the purpose not to sell or provide the property or services:
(1) At the price which he offered them; or
(2) In a quantity sufficient to meet the reasonably expected public demand, unless the quantity is specifically stated in the advertisement; or
(3) At all.
2. Bait advertising is a class A misdemeanor.
§ 407.516 R.S.Mo.
Odometer fraud, first degree, penalty
1. A person commits the crime of odometer fraud in the first degree if he advertises for sale, sells, installs or has installed any device which causes an odometer to register any mileage other than the true mileage driven.
2. For purposes of this section, the true mileage driven is that mileage driven by the vehicle as registered by the odometer within the manufacturer’s designed tolerance.
3. Odometer fraud in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor.
§ 407.521 R.S.Mo.
Odometer fraud, second degree, penalty
1. A person commits the crime of odometer fraud in the second degree if he, with the intent to defraud disconnects, resets, or alters the odometer of any motor vehicle with the intent to change the number of miles indicated thereon.
2. The disconnection, resetting, or altering of any odometer while in the possession of the person shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud.
3. Odometer fraud in the second degree is a class D felony.
§ 407.526 R.S.Mo.
Odometer fraud, third degree, penalty
1. A person commits the crime of odometer fraud in the third degree if, with the intent to defraud, he operates a motor vehicle less than ten years old on any street or highway knowing that the odometer of the motor vehicle is disconnected or not functioning.
2. Odometer fraud in the third degree is a class C misdemeanor.
§ 407.546 R.S.Mo.
Civil damages for odometer violations–venue
1. Any person who, with intent to defraud, violates any of the provisions of sections 407.511 to 407.556 shall be liable in civil damages to the purchaser or owner of the motor vehicle in an amount equal to three times the amount of actual damages sustained or two thousand five hundred dollars, whichever is the greater, and, in the case of any successful action to enforce the liability created by this section, the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney fees as determined by the court.