Vermont Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

Deceptive trade practices and acts in the State of Vermont are dealt under Title Nine (Commerce and Trade), Chapter 63 (Consumer Fraud), Subchapter 1 (General Provisions) of Vermont Statutes.  Section 2453 of this Subchapter prohibits any unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce.  This Section declares false advertisements as prohibited and unlawful.

Pursuant to Section 2458, an Attorney General or a state’s attorney upon reasonable belief that any person has violated Section 2453, can bring an action in the name of the state against those violators.  According to Section 2461, a consumer who contracts for goods and services relying upon false or fraudulent representations or practices prohibited under Section 2453 can bring an action to recover damages.

As prescribed under Section 2458, upon any action brought before the Superior Court for any violation, the court has the authority to issue temporary or permanent injunctions to restrain violations and additionally the court has power to impose a civil penalty not exceeding $10,000.  The Court may also order for restitution of cash or goods on behalf of a consumer or a class of consumers.

By the authority of Section 2461, any consumer who sustains damages or injury as a result of any false or fraudulent practice prohibited under the provisions of this section is entitled to recover equitable relief, actual damages, reasonable attorney fees, and exemplary damages not exceeding three times the value of the consideration given by the consumer.

Under Section 1704a of Title 23 (Motor Vehicles), Chapter 17 (General Offenses and Jurisdiction), any person who changes, tampers with or defaces, or who attempts to change, tamper with or deface, any gauge, dial, or other mechanical instrument, commonly known as an odometer, hubometer, or clock meter, in a motor vehicle so as to wrongfully indicate the actual miles ran shall be fined not more than $1000 for a first offence and fined not more than $2500 for each subsequent offence.

9 V.S.A. § 2453

Practices prohibited; antitrust and consumer fraud
(a) Unfair methods of competition in commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce, are hereby declared unlawful.
(b) It is the intent of the legislature that in construing subsection (a) of this section, the courts of this state will be guided by the construction of similar terms contained in Section 5(a)(1) of the Federal Trade Commission Act as from time to time amended by the Federal Trade Commission and the courts of the United States.
(c) The attorney general shall make rules and regulations, when necessary and proper to carry out the purposes of this chapter, relating to unfair methods of competition in commerce and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce. The rules and regulations shall not be inconsistent with the rules, regulations and decisions of the Federal Trade Commission and the federal courts interpreting the Federal Trade Commission Act.
(d) Violation of a rule or regulation as made by the attorney general is prima facie proof of the commission of an unfair or deceptive act in commerce.
(e) The provisions of subsections (a), (c) and (d) of this section shall also be applicable to real estate transactions.

9 V.S.A. § 2458

Restraining prohibited acts
(a) Whenever the attorney general or a state’s attorney has reason to believe that any person is using or is about to use any method, act or practice declared by section 2453 of this title to be unlawful, or has reason to believe that any person has violated any assurance of discontinuance entered into pursuant to section 2459 of this title, and that proceedings would be in the public interest, the attorney general, or a state’s attorney if authorized to proceed by the attorney general, may bring an action in the name of the state against such person to restrain by temporary or permanent injunction the use of such method, act or practice or to dissolve a domestic corporation or revoke the certificate of authority granted a foreign corporation. The action may be brought in the superior court of the county in which such person resides, has a place of business or is doing business. Said courts are authorized to issue temporary or permanent injunctions to restrain and prevent violations of this chapter, such injunctions to be issued without bonds, and so to dissolve, or revoke the certificate of authority of, a corporation.
(b) In addition to the foregoing, the attorney general or a state’s attorney may request and the court is authorized to render any other temporary or permanent relief, or both, as may be in the public interest including, but not limited to:
(1) the imposition of a civil penalty of not more than $ 10,000.00 for each violation;
(2) an order for restitution of cash or goods on behalf of a consumer or a class of consumers similarly situated;
(3) an order requiring reimbursement to the state of Vermont for the reasonable value of its services and its expenses in investigating and prosecuting the action;
(4) amounts other than consumer restitution recovered by the attorney general or department of state’s attorneys under this chapter, subject to appropriation each fiscal year, shall be available to the attorney general or department of state’s attorneys, respectively to offset the costs of providing legal services.
(c) Whenever a state’s attorney brings an action pursuant to this section, a copy of any pleadings shall be served on the attorney general pursuant to Rule 5 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure. Failure to comply with this provision shall not affect the validity of the proceedings commenced under this section.

9 V.S.A. § 2461

Civil penalty
(a) Any person who violates the terms of an injunction issued under section 2458 of this title shall forfeit and pay to the state a civil penalty of not more than $ 10,000.00 for each violation. For the purposes of this section, the court issuing such injunction shall retain jurisdiction, and the cause shall be continued, and in such cases the attorney general or a state’s attorney acting in the name of the state may petition for recovery of such civil penalty.
(b) Any consumer who contracts for goods or services in reliance upon false or fraudulent representations or practices prohibited by section 2453 of this title, or who sustains damages or injury as a result of any false or fraudulent representations or practices prohibited by section 2453 of this title, or prohibited by any rule or regulation made pursuant to section 2453 of this title may sue for appropriate equitable relief and may sue and recover from the seller, solicitor or other violator the amount of his damages, or the consideration or the value of the consideration given by the consumer, reasonable attorney’s fees, and exemplary damages not exceeding three times the value of the consideration given by the consumer. Any language, written or oral, used by a seller or solicitor, which attempts to exclude or modify recovery of the penalty or reasonable attorney’s fees shall be unenforceable.
(c) Any person alleged to have violated the terms of subsection (b) of this section shall be entitled to a trial by jury, unless waived according to law.

23 V.S.A. § 1704a

Alteration of odometers
Any person who sells, attempts to sell, or causes to be sold any motor vehicle, highway building appliance, motorboat, all-terrain vehicle, or snowmobile and has actual knowledge that the odometer, hubometer reading, or clock meter reading has been changed, tampered with or defaced without disclosing same and a person who changes, tampers with or defaces, or who attempts to change, tamper with or deface, any gauge, dial, or other mechanical instrument, commonly known as an odometer, hubometer, or clock meter, in a motor vehicle, highway building appliance, motorboat, or all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile, which, under normal circumstances and without being changed, tampered with or defaced, is designed to show by numbers or words the distance which the motor vehicle, highway building appliance, motorboat, or all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile travels, or who willfully misrepresents the odometer, hubometer or clock meter reading on the odometer disclosure statement or similar statement, title or bill of sale shall be fined not more than $ 1,000.00 for a first offense and fined not more than $ 2,500.00 for each subsequent offense.


Inside Vermont Deceptive Trade Practices Laws