Rhode Island Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

Rhode Island has not adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.  Deceptive trade practices in the state are dealt with in Rhode Island General Laws, under Title 6, Chapter 13.1.  The term ‘trade and commerce’ is defined in Section 6-13.1-1 to include advertising.  Section 6-13.1-2 declares false and fraudulent advertising as a deceptive act or practice which is declared unlawful.

Pursuant to Section 6-13.1-5, Attorney General may bring an action in the name of the state against any person, who violates any of the provisions of this Chapter, for a temporary or permanent injunction, restitution, or appointment of a receiver.  By the authority of Section 6-13.1-5.2, an individual consumer, who suffers any ascertainable loss of money or property as a result of any deceptive practice used or engaged by another person, may bring an action to recover actual damages or $ 200, whichever is greater.  The court may also award punitive damages in its own discretion.  This Section also provides for class action.  In both the private and the class action, the court may award reasonable attorney fees and costs, in addition to the regular relief.

Under Section 6-13.1-8, a civil penalty not exceeding $10,000 per violation will be imposed on any person who violates the terms of an injunction issued under the provisions of this Chapter.  An Attorney General may petition under Section 6-13.1-9 upon which the court, in its own discretion, may order the dissolution or suspension or forfeiture of franchise of any corporation that violates the terms of an injunction.

Under Section 31-23.2-4, any act of a person who disconnects, resets, or alters the odometer of any motor vehicle, with the intent to reduce the number of miles, is unlawful and at the same time would constitute a deceptive trade practice.  Section 31-23.2-7 prescribes punishment for such acts as imprisonment for up to five (5) years or a fine not exceeding $10,000 or $ 1.00 for each mile representing the difference between the actual mileage driven and the mileage as represented on the vehicle at the time of sale.  The person engaged in such acts may be prohibited from working for any motor vehicle dealer authorized to do business in the state of Rhode Island for a period of not more than one year.  The plates may be revoked if the person has been issued plates.  His/her license shall be revoked upon a conviction for a period of not more than one year.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 6-13.1-1

Definitions
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(5) “Trade” and “commerce” mean the advertising, offering for sale, sale, or distribution of any services and any property, tangible or intangible, real, personal, or mixed, and any other article, commodity, or thing of value wherever situate, and include any trade or commerce directly or indirectly affecting the people of this state.
(6) “Unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices” means any one or more of the following:

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(ix) Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised;
(x) Advertising goods or services with intent not to supply reasonably expectable public demand, unless the advertisement discloses a limitation of quantity;
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R.I. Gen. Laws § 6-13.1-2

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

R.I. Gen. Laws § 6-13.1-5

Restraining prohibited acts
(a) Whenever the attorney general has reason to believe that any person is using, has used, or is about to use any method, act, or practice declared to be unlawful by § 6-13.1-2, and that proceedings would be in the public interest, the attorney general may bring an action in the name of the state against the person to restrain by temporary or permanent injunction the use of the method, act, or practice, upon the giving of appropriate notice to that person. The notice must generally state the relief sought and be served in accordance with § 6-13.1-7 and at least three (3) days before the hearing of the action.
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(c) The court may make any additional orders or judgments that may be necessary to restore to any person in interest any moneys or property, real or personal, which may have been acquired by means of any practice in this chapter declared to be unlawful, including the appointment of a receiver in any case where the superior court finds that the assets of a corporation are in danger of being misapplied, dissipated, wasted, or lost, or the revocation of a license or certificate authorizing that person to engage in business in this state, or both.
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R.I. Gen. Laws § 6-13.1-5.2

Private and class actions
(a) Any person who purchases or leases goods or services primarily for personal, family, or household purposes and thereby 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 § 6-13.1-2, may bring an action under Rules of Civil Procedure in the superior court of the county in which the seller or lessor resides, is found, has his or her principal place of business, or is doing business, or in the superior court of the county as is otherwise provided by law, to recover actual damages or two hundred dollars ($ 200), whichever is greater. The court may, in its discretion, award punitive damages and may provide other equitable relief that it deems necessary or proper.
(b) Persons entitled to bring an action under subsection (a) of this section may, if the unlawful method, act, or practice has caused similar injury to numerous other persons similarly situated and if they adequately represent the similarly situated persons, bring an action on behalf of themselves and other similarly injured and situated persons to recover damages as provided for in subsection (a) of this section. In any action brought under this section, the court may in its discretion order, in addition to damages, injunctive or other equitable relief.
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(d) In any action brought by a person under this section, the court may award, in addition to the relief provided in this section, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
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R.I. Gen. Laws § 6-13.1-8

Civil penalties
Any person who violates the terms of an injunction issued under § 6-13.1-5 shall forfeit and pay to the state a civil penalty of not more than ten thousand dollars ($ 10,000) per violation. For the purposes of this section, the superior court of a county issuing an injunction shall retain jurisdiction, and the cause shall be continued, and in those cases the attorney general, acting in the name of the state, may petition for recovery of civil penalties.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 6-13.1-9

Forfeiture of corporate franchise
Upon petition by the attorney general, the superior court may, in its discretion, order the dissolution or suspension or forfeiture of franchise of any corporation that violates the terms of an injunction issued under § 6-13.1-5.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-23.2-4

Unlawful activity
It is unlawful for any person or his or her agent to disconnect, reset, or alter the odometer of any motor vehicle with the intent to reduce the number of miles indicated on it.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-23.2-7

Penalty
(a) A person who shall violate any of the sections of this chapter shall be punished by imprisonment for up to five (5) years or a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($ 10,000) or one dollar ($ 1.00) for each mile representing the difference between the actual mileage driven and the mileage as represented on the vehicle at the time of sale, and the person may be prohibited from working for any motor vehicle dealer authorized to do business in the state of Rhode Island for a period of not more than one year; and if the person has been issued plates pursuant to § 31-3-25, the plates may be revoked.
(b) Should any person who violates any of the sections of this chapter possess a motor vehicle dealer’s license, this license shall be revoked upon his or her conviction for a period of not more than one year.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-23.2-11

Violation constituting deceptive trade practice
Any violation of the provisions of this chapter shall constitute a deceptive trade practice under the terms of chapter 13.1 of title 6. In addition to the provisions of § 31-23.2-8, all of the public and private remedies provided for in chapter 13.1 of title 6 shall be available to enforce the provisions of this chapter.


Inside Rhode Island Deceptive Trade Practices Laws