Montana Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

Laws relating to deceptive trade practices are dealt under Montana Code, Title 30 (Trade and Commerce), Chapter 14 (Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection) Section 104 et seq.  The term ‘trade and commerce’ is defined in Section 30-14-102, to include any advertising of goods and services.  Therefore, according to Section 30-14-103, it is unlawful for any person to use unfair methods of competition or deceptive trade practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.  The county attorney on request of the Department of Commerce or another county attorney may bring an action to recover damages, pursuant to Section 30-14-121.  According to Section 30-14-111, the Department of Commerce may bring an action in the name of the state against any violator to restrain the use of unlawful methods or practices.

Under Section 30-14-133, a consumer who suffers any ascertainable loss of money or property, as a result of any prohibited practice or method by another person, can bring an action individually under the rules of civil procedure in the district court of the county.  Class action is not permitted.

Pursuant to Section 30-14-132, any person who suffers damages as a result of unlawful practice by another person with proof to the satisfaction of the court that  the person has in fact been damaged may participate with general creditors in the distribution of the assets to the extent  the person has sustained out-of-pocket losses.

As prescribed in Section 30-14-133, a consumer who suffers damages by way of any violators of any provisions of this Chapter shall recover actual damages or $500, whichever is greater.  The Court may in its discretion, award up to three times the actual damages sustained by any person injured or damaged by the unlawful acts or practices.   The Court may also order the prevailing party with reasonable attorney fees.

It is unlawful for any person to tamper with the odometer of a motor vehicle pursuant to Section 61-3-607 of Chapter 3 (Certificates of Title, Registration, and Taxation of Motor Vehicles) under Title 61 (Motor Vehicles) of Montana Code.  Furthermore, if any person removes, turns back, or changes the reading on the odometer that causes the odometer to register a mileage reading other than the true mileage for the purpose of deceiving a prospective purchaser shall be punishable by a fine of not exceeding $5000 or imprisonment for not more than ten years or both.

Mont. Code Anno., § 30-14-103

Unlawful practices.
Unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are unlawful.

Mont. Code Anno., § 30-14-133

Damages — notice to public agencies — attorney fees — prior judgment as evidence.
(1)  A consumer who suffers any 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 30-14-103 may bring an individual but not a class action under the rules of civil procedure in the district court of the county in which the seller, lessor, or service provider resides or has its principal place of business or is doing business to recover actual damages or $ 500, whichever is greater. An individual claim may be brought in justice’s court. The court may, in its discretion, award up to three times the actual damages sustained and may provide any other equitable relief that it considers necessary or proper.
(2)  Upon commencement of any action brought under subsection (1), the clerk of court shall mail a copy of the complaint or initial pleading to the department and the appropriate county attorney and, upon entry of any judgment or decree in the action, shall mail a copy of the judgment or decree to the department and the appropriate county attorney.
(3)  In any action brought under this section, the court may award the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees incurred in prosecuting or defending the action. A person who brings an action on the person’s own behalf without an attorney may receive attorney fees at the judge’s discretion.

Mont. Code Anno., § 30-14-132

Powers of receiver — proof of damages — jurisdiction.
(1)  When a receiver is appointed by the court pursuant to this part,  the receiver has the power to sue for, collect, receive, and take into possession all goods and chattels, rights and credits, moneys and effects, lands and tenements, books, records, documents, papers, choses in action, bills, notes, and property of every description derived by means of any practice declared to be illegal and prohibited by this part, including property with which the property has been mingled if it cannot be identified in kind because of the commingling, and to sell, convey, and assign the same and hold and dispose of the proceeds  of the property under the direction of the court.
(2)  Any person who has suffered damages as a result of the use or employment of any unlawful practice and submits proof to the satisfaction of the court that  the person has in fact been damaged may participate with general creditors in the distribution of the assets to the extent  the person has sustained out-of-pocket losses.
(3)  In the case of a partnership or business entity, the receiver shall settle the estate and distribute the assets under the direction of the court.
(4)  The court has jurisdiction of all questions arising in the proceedings and may make orders and judgments as may be required.

Mont. Code Anno., § 61-3-607

Penalty for tampering with odometer or violating odometer statement requirements.
(1)  It is unlawful for a person to tamper with the odometer of a motor vehicle. It is considered tampering if a person removes, turns back, or changes the reading on the odometer, except when repairing or replacing a defective odometer and setting it anew to show the true mileage, or if a person sells, offers for sale, uses, installs, or causes to be installed any device that causes the odometer to register a mileage reading other than the true mileage for the purpose of deceiving a prospective purchaser. For purposes of this section, the true mileage is that driven by the motor vehicle as registered by the odometer within the manufacturer’s designed tolerance.
(2)  A person who purposely or knowingly violates the provisions of 61-3-206 or subsection (1) of this section is punishable by a fine of not more than $ 5,000 or imprisonment in the state prison for a period of not more than 10 years, or both. If that person is a motor vehicle dealer, the department shall revoke the dealer’s license. Action by the department under this subsection must conform to the contested case procedures in Title 2, chapter 4.


Inside Montana Deceptive Trade Practices Laws