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SCAS

1he Massachusetts Sma|| C|a|ms Adv|sory Serv|ce



Vo|unteer Manua|

h||||ps 8rooks nouse
narvard ard
Cambr|dge, MA 02138
(617) 497 - S690



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1ab|e of Contents
n|story of SCAS............................p.3
Cff|ce rotoco|s..........................p.8
Chapter 1: Genera| rocedure.................p.17
Chapter 2: Co||ect|ons.....................p.31
Chapter 3: Land|ord]1enant...................p.36
Chapter 4: nome Improvement.................p.48
Chapter S: Consumer Law...................p.S4
Chapter 6: Auto Law......................p.62
Chapter 7: ersona| D|sputes....................p.73
Chapter 8: Cred|t]Deb|t.........................p.79
Append|ces




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n|story of SCAS
1he Small Clalms Advlsory Servlce (SCAS) ls an undergraduaLe publlc servlce organlzaLlon aL Parvard
unlverslLy afflllaLed wlLh Lhe hllllps 8rooks Pouse AssoclaLlon (P8A). lLs prlmary focus ls Lo help cllenLs
navlgaLe Lhe confuslng world of small clalms courL law Lhrough lLs Lelephone servlce, ln-person
asslsLance, and lnsLrucLlonal manuals. SCAS ls excluslvely dedlcaLed Lo asslsL wlLh small clalms courL
problems and Lhls makes lL Lhe only organlzaLlon of lLs klnd ln Lhe CommonwealLh of MassachuseLLs.
1he Lar|y ears
1he hlsLory of SCAS ls a shorL buL lnLeresLlng one. lL was founded as Lhe 8oxbury Small Clalms Advlsory
ro[ecL (SCA for shorL) ln CcLober of 1974 by a group of slx dedlcaLed sLudenLs and was llLLle more Lhan
an offshooL of 8PA's Legal CommlLLee. 1he lmpeLus for Lhe pro[ecL was a requesL by !udge !ohn
CraLsley of Lhe 8oxbury Munlclpal CourL for an advlsory servlce slmllar Lo Lhe one exlsLlng prevlously ln
Lhe uorchesLer and 8oxbury courLs. 1he earller pro[ecL had been funded by a group afflllaLed wlLh Lhe
consumer crusader 8alph nader, and conslsLed fo Lwo full -Llme small clalms speclallsLs who gave free
advlce on organlzlng and presenLlng small clalms cases. ln addlLlon, Lhey acLed as Lhlrd parLy medlaLors
and observers aL Lhe behesL of Lhe courL, and, ln cerLaln slLuaLlons, as advocaLes. lL was Lhls Lype of
organlzaLlon LhaL SCA soughL Lo creaLe.
ln order Lo Lraln Lhemselves ln small clalms courL procedure, Lhe volunLeers read and sLudled Sue Lhe
8asLards, a popular manual for small clalms llLlganLs. ln addlLlon, Lhey read a bookleL on how Lo sue by
Mass l8C, varlous oLher mlscellaneous lnformaLlon on Lhe courL, and of course, Lhe rules of small
clalms procedure. 1he volunLeers also aLLended Lwo speclallzed Lralnlng sesslons, one wlLh Alan uleLch,
Lhe former advlser of Lhe nader pro[ecL, and Lhe oLher wlLh [udge CraLsle y, who lnsLrucLed Lhe
volunLeers on Lhe naLure of an effecLlve small clalms case from a [udge's perspecLlve.
!udge CraLsley generously provlded Lhe fledgllng pro[ecL wlLh a renL -free offlce ln Lhe 8oxbury Munlclpal
CourL. 1he offlce was open Monday and Wednesday mornlngs and 1uesday and 1hursday afLernoons.
Soon afLer openlng, Lwo more volunLeers were added Lo help allevlaLe Lhe swlfLly rlslng workload. ln
addlLlon Lo Lhe new volunLeers, a nlghL-llne was esLabllshed Lhrough a phone aL Lhe hllllps 8rooks
Pouse, and was aLLended Monday, 1uesday, and Wednesday nlghLs from 7-9 M.
CompleLe success eluded Lhe pro[ecL, however. SCA's proposal Lo seL up operaLlons aL Lhe Cambrldge
courL was Lurned down by Chlef !usLlce Lawrence leloney, who clLed SCA's posslble unauLhorlzed
pracLlce of law as hls maln reason for refusal. Also, SCA's aLLempLs Lo be lncluded as a full commlLLee
wlLhln Lhe greaLer hllllps 8rooks Pouse AssoclaLlon meL wlLh repeaLed fallure - 8P offlclals remalned
unconvlnced abouL Lhe focus of SCA. As a resulL, Lhe program remalned a subordlnaLe group wlLhln Lhe
larger Legal CommlLLee. erhaps Lhe blggesL problem wlLh SCA, however, was Lhe lack of focus. As
uavld 8lxby, one of Lhe orlglnal volunLeers explalned ln a 1973 granL proposal, "1he group neglecLed Lo
develop clearly-deflned ldeas on Lhe preclse naLure of whaL Lhey were dolng, why Lhey were dolng lL,
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and whaL Lhey ulLlmaLely hoped Lo accompllsh. 1he group recognlzed Lhls problem somewhaL, yeL
declded Lo leave Lhe resoluLlon of Lhese lssues , parLlcularly Lhe lasL Lwo, Lo Llme and experlence."
ln 1976, only a few years afLer Lhe pro[ecL was founded, Lhe 8osLon Clobe Look noLlce of Lhe lmpacL Lhe
pro[ecL - now known as Lhe Small Clalms Advlsory Servlce - was havlng ln Lhe 8oxbury area. ClLlng lL for
lLs success ln "easlng Lhe way lnLo small clalms courL," Lhe newspaper lnLervlewed boLh !udge CrasLley
and sLudenL volunLeers llke Lhen chalrperson 1ony CenLry. 1he Clobe was full of noLhlng buL pralse:
"[1he Small Clalms Advlsory Servlce] ls Lhe only on of lLs klnd ln Lhe sLaLe....When clLlzens call Lhe Small
Clalms Advlsory Servlce aL 427-8782, Lhey are lnvlLed Lo vlslL Lhe offlce and are asslsLed ln elLher flllng a
clalm or defendlng agalnsL a sulL. 1he sLudenL volunLeer wlll explaln how Lo faLher resources llke
documenLs, leLLers, bllls, and wlLnesses, and explaln how Lhe courL hearlng wlll work. SomeLlmes
nervous clLlzens are broughL lnLo Lhe small clalms sesslon Lo see lL ln acLlon and reduce Lhelr anxleLy."
1he Clobe arLlcle succeeded ln aLLracLlng more aLLenLlon Lo SCAS, and Lhanks ln parL Lo Lhe favorable
publlclLy, lnLeresL ln legal advocacy surged and Lhe number of volunLeers lncreased Lwofold. As one of
Lhe larger programs wlLhln 8PA, SCAS was subsequenLly granLed lndependenL commlLLee sLaLus and
separaLed from lLs parenL, 1he Legal CommlLLee. 1hls move afflrmed SCAS's lmporLance as a separaLe
organlzaLlon and hlghllghLed Lhe lmpacL of legal advocacy wlLhln Lhe larger conglomeraLe of servlce
programs.
1he Search for a nome
1he laLe 1970s and Lhe early 1980s were dlfflculL years for SCAS, as Lhe lnlLlal exclLemenL and newness
of legal advocacy and small clalms wore off. ln an exLreme low polnL ln 1981, Lwo volunLeers were
mugged on Lhelr way Lo Lhe 8oxbury courLhouse. 1hls slLuaLlon, comblned wlLh Lhe LhreaL of fuLure
securlLy problems, forced SCAS Lo close Lhelr 8oxbury offlce and wlLhdraw from Lhe area alLogeLher.
Whlle Lhe move was lnLended Lo preserve volunLeer safeLy, however, closlng Lhe 8oxbury offlce
serlously hampered SCAS ln lLs aLLempLs Lo help small clalms llLlganLs. Slnce lL was essenLlally lefL
wlLhouL offlce space, SCAS could no longer funcLlon properly. ln frusLraLlon, SCAS offlclals qulckly began
searchlng for offlce space elsewhere. uurlng Lhe sprlng of 1982, offlcers conLacLe d 114 courLhouses,
communlLy servlce organlzaLlons, and Parvard alumnae ln an efforL Lo locaLe anoLher renL -free offlce
space. llnally, afLer much dellberaLlon wlLh 8PA execuLlve board members, SCAS found a permanenL
home ln a 2nd sLory communal offlce ln Lhe hlllps 8rooks Pouse ln Parvard ?ard.
8uL whlle Lhls orlglnal 8P offlce provlded much needed offlce space for Lhe group, lL lefL much Lo be
deslred. Cccupylng a desk ln a lager communal offlce, SCAS volunLeers had Lo deal wlLh Lhe background
of volunLeers of oLher programs. 1he offlce lacked Lhe prlvacy SCAS needed Lo conducL lLs buslness.
erhaps mosL lmporLanLly, Lhe communal naLure of Lhe offlce prevenLed cllenLs and volunLeers from
meeLlng face-Lo-face. "Cur presenL locaLlon on campus aL hlllps 8rooks Pouse prohlblLs us from
provldlng 'walk-ln' servlce Lo our callers. We are anxlous Lo move back lnLo Lhe communlLy," grumbled a
1982 granL appllcaLlon.

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1he closlng of Lhe 8oxbury offlce ln Lhe early 1980s slgnaled SCAS's wlLhdrawal from Lhe communlL y. lor
Lwelve years, SCAS remalned clolsLered ln Parvard ?ard and communlLy conLacL was mlnlmal. ln !uly
1994, however, Lhe efforLs of LxecuLlve ulrecLor lrank asquale '96 pald off wlLh Lhe openlng of an
offlce aL Lhe Cambrldge and Somervllle Legal Servlces (CASLS). LocaLed ln lnman Square aL Lhe offlce of
Lhe Cambrldge and Somervllle Legal Servlces, Lhe CASLS offlce, unllke Lhe one aL 8P, lnvlLed cllenLs Lo
come ln wlLh Lhelr problems for a one-on-one help sesslon. volunLeers could Lhen asslsL Lhe cllenL s wlLh
wrlLlng demand leLLers, flllng ouL forms, or llsLenlng Lo argumenLs. Cne volunLeer explalned Lhe dally
operaLlons aL Lhe CASLS offlce:
"AfLer meeLlng wlLh a cllenL Lo dlscuss a case, we ofLen make phone calls and wrlLe leLLers on Lhelr
behalf. Slnce we are worklng ln a law offlce, we can also ask any of Lhe Lhen on-slLe lawyers parLlcularly
complex quesLlons and can use Lhelr law llbrary Lo research legal lssues. Whenever posslble, volunLeers
even accompany cllenLs Lo courL...SCAS volunLeers aL [CASLS] play an acLlve role ln helplng
dlsadvanLaged lndlvlduals asserL Lhelr rlghLs."
noL only dld Lhe CASLS offlce faclllLaLe cllenL conLacL, buL lL also fosLered a healLhy relaLlonshlp beLween
SCAS and Lhe Cambrldge and Somervllle Legal Servlces. aLrlck Arnerson, ulrecLor of CASLS, polnLed ouL,
"CASLS have provlded SCAS volunLeers wlLh free offlce space and Lelephone prlvlleges, whlle SCAS
personnel have creaLed a handy ln-house referral opLlon for overworked aLLorneys and paralegals."
Sadly, budgeL cuLs aL Lhe Cambrldge and Somervllle Legal Servlces forced Lhe closlng of SCAS's CASLS
offlce ln 1997. Alarmed aL Lhe LhoughL of loslng valuable communlLy conLacL, SCAS offlcers lmmedlaLely
began looklng for alLernaLe offlce space. 1hanks Lo some lucky neLworklng by LxecuLlve ulrecLor !ohn
Crslnl '98, SCAS offlcers were able Lo geL ln Louch wlLh Lhe CreaLer 8osLon Legal Servlces (C8LS), Lhe
federal legal ald program servlng Lhe 8osLon area. C8LS was able Lo provlde SCAS wlLh a small lnLervlew
room on Lhe second floor and allow SCAS Lo use offlce supplles as well as a sLaLe-of Lhe-arL compuLer.
SCAS's C8LS offlce opened ln Lhe wlnLer of 1998 and currenLly serves as SCAS's base of communlLy
operaLlons. SCAS's Lwo maln offlces - Lhe C8LS offlce and Lhe Parvard offlce l n Lhe hllllps 8rooks Pouse
basemenL - make up Lhe bedrock of SCAS's cllenL conLacL.
1he Sp|r|t of keform
8uL SCAS was also devoLlng lLs resources Lo Lasks oLher Lhan conLacLlng cllenLs. SLarLlng ln Lhe early
1980s, for example, SCAS began explorlng ways Lo make Lhe small clalms sysLem beLLer Lhrough legal
reform. Cne frusLraLlon LhaL had been plagulng llLlganLs was Lhe low $730 llmlL on small clalms cases.
1hls llmlL meanL LhaL many cases could noL be heard ln small clalms courL slmply because Lhe amounL of
money lnvolved exceeded Lhe llmlL. As a resulL, SCAS began worklng on changlng Lhe sysLem lLself. ln Lhe
sprlng of 1981, a SCAS chalr LesLlfled before Lhe sLaLe leglslaLure on behalf of a small clalms reform blll.
ln 1982, LhaL blll became law, and Lhe celllng of small clalms courL was ralsed from $730 Lo $1,230. 1hls
slmple measure was Lo be Lhe flrsL lnvolvemenL by SCAS ln Lhe leglslaLlve arena.

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SCAS's lnvolvemenL ln leglslaLlve reform conLlnued Lo grow ln Lhe laLe 1980s and early 1990s. AL Lhls
polnL, Lhe problem SCAS addressed was no longer Lhe llmlL on small clalms cases. 1he sysLem worked
smooLhly, excepL when lL came Llme for cllenLs Lo collecL. lndeed, Lhe small clalms sysLem was unable Lo
ensure LhaL wlnnlng parLles would be able Lo collecL Lhelr rlghLful dues, and many [udgmenL debLors
were able Lo geL off Lhe hook. "1hroughouL MassachuseLLs Lhere are Lhousands of people each year who
go Lo small clalms courL, follow Lhe correcL procedures, wln Lhelr cases, and are sLlll never able Lo collecL
whaL Lhey are owed," wroLe LllzabeLh ope '98, a SCAS volunLeer. 1hls one weakness was causlng Lhe
small clalms sysLem Lo lose much of lLs presLlge and respecL. SCAS was one of Lhe flrsL organlzaLlons Lo
sLand up and Lake noLlce.
lL was ouL of Lhe frusLraLlon over collecLlon problems LhaL Lhe Law 8eform commlLLee was creaLed ln
!anuary of 1998. Law 8eform had exlsLed prevlously as a [olnL commlLLee wlLh Legal 8esearch. 1he spllL
was made under Lhe advlsemenL of CarlLon Larson '97, Legal 8esearch ulrecLor. As s oon as lL was
creaLed, Lhe commlLLee, under Lhe leadershlp of newly appolnLed dlrecLor Mlcah Myers '00,
lmmedlaLely began researchlng and scruLlnlzlng bllls pendlng ln Lhe MassachuseLLs leglslaLure. AfLer
analyzlng Lhe varlous problems LhaL successful plalnLlffs ln small clalms courL had ln Lrylng Lo collecL
Lhelr seLLlemenLs, Lhe Law 8eform commlLLee drafLed lLs own blll Lo Loughen collecLlons procedures.
P81344 proposed reforms LhaL would have made lL easler for lndlvldual plalnLlffs Lo collecL Lhe
[udgmenLs Lhey had won ln small clalms courL and found a sponsor ln SLaLe 8epresenLaLlve aul uemakls
'73, !u '78. 1he blll had flve provlslons:
1. aymenL hearlngs were Lo be auLomaLlcally scheduled once a [udgmenL was awarded.
2. Lasler wage asslgnmenLs
3. LscalaLlng fees for non-payers
4. non-renewal of drlver's llcenses for Lhose wlLh ouLsLandlng [udgmenLs
3. Clear lnformaLlon on Lhls process musL be provlded Lo all parLles.
P81344 was ulLlmaLely comblned wlLh a SenaLe blll on Lhe same Loplc sponsored by SLaLe SenaLor
Cheryl A. !acques.
Structure and Crgan|zat|on
ln addlLlon Lo lLs aLLempLs Lo reform Lhe legal sysLem, SCAS has had a long hlsLory of resLrucLure and
reorganlzaLlon. Crlglnally sLarLlng ouL wlLh slx sLudenLs ln 1974, Lhe number of SCAS volunLeers has rlsen
sLeadlly. lndeed, soon afLer SCAS won unlLed Way approval ln 1986 (flve years before Lhe hllllps 8rooks
Pouse was awarded Lhls honor), SCAS membershlp was close Lo one hundred members.
1he growLh was noL conslsLenL, however. ln Lhe fall of 1994, for example, SCAS was able Lo enllsL only
four new volunLeers lnLo lLs Lralnlng schedule. lL became apparenL Lo 1993 LxecuLlve ulrecLor lrank
asquale '96 and 1996 LxecuLlve ulrecLor ChrlsLlan Chu '97 LhaL resLrucLure and reorganlzaLlon wer e
needed ln order Lo aLLracL more volunLeers and Lo beLLer Lraln Lhem ln small clalms courL procedure.
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under Lhe leadershlp of asquale and Chu, Lhe enLlre sysLem of Lralnlng was revamped so LhaL new
volunLeers ("compers") learned Lhe ropes of small clalms courL procedure ln small groups led by an
experlenced volunLeer ("workgroup leader"). AddlLlonally, Lhe Leachlng currlculum was updaLed Lo
creaLe more comprehenslve and lnLeracLlve weekly lessons for Lhe group seLLlng and began Lo
encompass ample case sLudles and oLher exerclses for compers Lo learn Lhe law.
1he need for more lnLeracLlve Lralnlng procedures also led Lo Lhe creaLlon of SCAS's very own webslLe,
deslgned by Sharon ?ang '98, former ulrecLor of CommunlcaLlons. 1he webslLe feaLures an onllne
Lralnlng manual, brochures, and oLher conLacL lnformaLlon, boLh for new volunLeers and lnLeresLed
members of Lhe publlc. erhaps Lhe mosL lnLeresLlng feaLure of Lhe SCAS webslLe ls Lhe on-llne Legal
8esearch quesLlon book, an addlLlon made by 1998 Legal 8esearch ulrecLor SLeve Won. Pere, volunLeers
can enLer Lhelr quesLlons and expecL a speedy emall reply from one of Lhe members of Lhe Legal
8esearch CommlLLee.
erhaps Lhe mosL radlcal and recenL upheaval aL SCAS was Lhe shlfL from Lhe ublqulLous "blue cards" Lo
a compuLerlzed daLabase ln Lhe summer of 1999. revlously, volunLeers would have Lo wrlLe
lnformaLlon ouL by hand on blue cards, whlch would Lhen be sorLed ln dlfferenL boxes accordlng Lo case
sLaLus. 1hls sysLem was cheap, buL cumbersome. Cards were easlly losL, mlsplaced or rendered
lndeclpherable by a volunLeer's poor handwrlLlng. 1he compuLer daLabase, deslgned speclflcally for Lhe
needs of SCAS by Aaron 8rofman '02, Lruly broughL SCAS lnLo Lhe compuLer age. 1he subsequenL l3
sysLem, deslgned and puL lnLo place by uavld MonLelro '04, made Lhe daLabase more user-frlendly, and
also made lL accesslble vla Lhe lnLerneL Lo all users. volunLeers can now access and edlL lnformaLlon and
call up cases on Lhe basls of cerLaln characLerlsLlcs. erhaps mosL lmporLanLly, Lhe use of Lhe compuLer
daLabase has lncreased SCAS's efflclency and has made locaLlng cllenL lnformaLlon all LhaL much easler.
ln Lhe early 2000s, SCAS aggresslvely soughL more and more granL fundlng Lhrough varlous means. SCAS
ls currenLly worklng on Lhe Small Clalms 8esearch and LducaLlon ro[ecL (SC8L), a Massbar funded
pro[ecL whose componenLs lnclude an lnformaLlon vldeo for cllenLs on Lngllsh language brochures. SCAS
was also Lhe reclplenL of Lhe PuLA granL, anoLher Massbar pro[ecL LhaL funded Lhe formaLlon of forelgn
language offlce hours aL SCAS's communlLy offlce, a Spanlsh-language lnsLrucLlonal vldeo, and varlous
Spanlsh brochures.
ln recenL years, SCAS has been Lrylng Lo exporL lLs model Lo oLher sLaLes ln Lhe counLry. SCAS volunLeers
have now compleLed an lnsLrucLlonal manual for Callfornla and new ?ork. 1he hosL colleges have noL
yeL been deLermlned. ln addlLlon, SCAS has sLarLed dolng more dlrecL communlLy work. ln 2004, under
Lhe leadershlp of Penry Mak '06 and !asmlne Zhang '06, SCAS opened a saLelllLe offlce ln Lhe 8osLon
ChlnaLown, aL Lhe Chlnese rogresslve AssoclaLlon (CA). SCAS geLs CanLonese and Mandarln-speaklng
referrals from C8LS, and from oLher sources, and schedules appolnLmenLs wlLh Lhem. ln Lhe fall of 2006,
under Lhe leadershlp of Marco 8aslle '08, SCAS wlll be openlng an offlce Lo servlce Lhe Spanlsh-speaklng
communlLy ln Lhe greaLer 8osLon area. Pal ham '09 ls worklng wlLh vleLAld Lo open anoLher saLelllLe
SCAS offlce ln uorchesLer, servlng Lhe vleLnamese-speaklng populaLlon.
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Cff|ce rotoco|
?our flrsL Llme ln Lhe offlce can ofLen be a daunLlng and ouLrlghL lnLlmldaLlng experlence. ?ou may know
Lhe manual, buL lf you do noL know how Lo effecLlvely run Lhe offlce, you wlll noL be successful ln geLLlng
anyLhlng done. 1hls proLocol ls a baslc how Lo gulde of Lhe Cfflce.
1he 8as|cs of the Cff|ce
1he SCAS Cfflce ls where you wlll conducL mosL of your work as a volunLeer for Lhe organlzaLlon. 1here
are a few baslc Lhlngs LhaL you wlll need Lo know.
* 1he key Lo Lhe offlce l s locaLed ln Lhe SCAS Mallbox ln Lhe back rlghL of Lhe flrsL floor of Lhe 8PA
bulldlng. ALWA?S u1 1PL kL? ln 1PL LxAC1 SAML MAlL8Cx. lf you reallze LhaL you have Lhe key afLer
you have lefL, lmmedlaLely reLurn back Lo 8PA and brlng Lhe key back. lf you arrlve aL Lhe offlce and
flnd LhaL Lhe key ls mlsslng, you should 1)check Lhe enLlre mallbox, 2)go Lo Lhe offlce and make sure no
one ls lnslde, 3)ask someone Lo open Lhe door, and 4)send an emall lmmedlaLely ouL over Lhe SCAS PCS
llsL requesLlng LhaL whoever has Lhe key reLurn lL. Make sure LhaL Lhe key ls also noL ln Lhe offlce by
accldenL.
* 1he CompuLer ls also a valuable resource. lL has Lhe l3 and mosL, lf noL all of Lhe flles you wlll need. uC
nC1 1u8n Cll 1PL CCMu1L8. Slmply leave lL when you are done wlLh your offlce hours.
* 1he hone and volcemall sysLem are Lo Lhe lefL of Lhe compuLer.
* ?ou wlll also flnd mulLlple coples of Lhe manual ln Lhe offlce. 1hls manual ls Lo sLay excluslvely ln Lhe
offlce. uo noL Lake lL or "borrow lL."
* ?ou wlll also flnd coples of Lhe pamphleLs LhaL many oLher organlzaLlons have lefL ln Lhe offlce, as well
as coples of many of Lhe forms LhaL cllenLs wlll have Lo flll ouL for small clalms courL. use Lhose coples lf
you need Lo reference Lhem for a call or for a cllenL meeLlng.
1he Vo|cema|| System
Access|ng the Vo|cema||
Accesslng Lhe volcemall ls Lhe mosL baslc Lask you wlll perform ln Lhe offlce. 1o do so, follow Lhe sLeps
below.
1. Cn Lhe vonage Machlne, cllck Lhe selecL buLLon
2. Scroll down wlLh Lhe arrow Lo hlghl lghL Lasy ulallng and press SelecL.
3. ress Lhe volcemall buLLon wlLh Lhe selecL buLLon.
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AL Lhls polnL, lf you do noL already have Lhe phone off Lhe hook, Lhe phone wlll rlng. lck lL up, and you
wlll be prompLed wlLh Lhe password (1963). AL LhaL polnL, follow Lhe proLocol ouLllned by Lhe machlne
Lo geL Lo new messages (1he shorL cuL ls Lo press 1 and Lhen 1 agaln aL Lhe nexL prompL Lo sLarL new
messages.)
AL LhaL polnL, Lhe new messages wlll play from oldesL Lo mosL recenL. When llsLenlng Lo Lhe messages,
make sure LhaL you Lake noLes LhaL lnclude:
* 1he name of Lhe cllenL
* 1he phone number(s) of Lhe cllenL
* WhaL Lhe cllenL wanLs
* 8rlef deLalls of Lhe case
* Any speclal lnfo abouL Lhe case (dld Lhe lndlvldual requesL a speclflc person, forelgn language
problems, eLc.)
When you are flnlshed wlLh Lhe messages, upload Lhem Lo Lhe l3 (as ouLllned below) and Lhen deleLe
Lhe old messages.
Chang|ng the Vo|cema||
1o Change Lhe volcemall (lor when we go on break or are reLurnlng from one), follow Lhe procedure
below:
1. Cn Lhe vonage Machlne (Lhe black machlne), press se|ect.
2. use Lhe down arrow Lo selecL easy d|a||ng and Lhen press se|ect.
3. ress selecL on vo|cema||.
4. lck up Lhe phone and follow Lhe lnsLrucLlons Lo be able Lo change Lhe volcemall.
lor a normal volcemall, use Lhe followlng as a LemplaLe:
"?ou have reached Lhe Small Clalms Advlsory Servlce. lor lmmedlaLe asslsLance, please vlslL our webslLe
aL masmallclalms.org where Lhere ls already a greaL amounL of lnformaLlon. lor fasLer servlce, you can
emall us aL masmallclalms[gmall.com. CLherwlse, please leave a message wlLh your name, your phone
number, and a brlef descrlpLlon of your case. 1hank you for calllng!"
lor seLLlng a volcemall durlng vacaLlon, use Lhe followlng as a LemplaLe:
"?ou have reached Lhe Small Clalms Advlsory Servlce. We are a sLudenL organlzaLlon and are currenLly
on wlnLer/summer/sprlng break. lor lmmedlaLe asslsLance, please vlslL our webs lLe aL
masmallclalms.org where Lhere ls already a greaL amounL of lnformaLlon. ?ou can also emall us aL
10

masmallclalms[gmall.com. We wlll noL be reLurnlng Lo normal offlce hours unLll [lnserL daLe here], buL
lf your maLLer ls noL urgenL, you can leave a message afLer Lhe Lone wlL h your name, Lhe spelllng of your
name, your phone number, and a brl ef descrlpLlon of your case. Agaln, we apologlze for Lhe delay and
Lhank you for calllng."
Access|ng the Vo|cema|| from Another Locat|on
lf you are away and wanL Lo check volcemalls Lo puL Lhem ln l3, follow one of Lhe Lwo procedures below.
lf you would llke Lo check volcemalls by phone:
1. Call SCAS aL (617) 497-3690 Lhen press *
2. ?ou'll be prompLed for Lhe password, so enLer Lhe pas sword and Lhen you'll be aL Lhe normal
volcemall menu.
lease noLe LhaL whlle you use Lhls meLhod, no one ln Lhe offlce can make phone calls. 1herefore, do noL
use Lhls meLhod whlle someone else has offlce hours. lnsLead, lL ls a greaL way Lo 1)do offlce hours from
anoLher locaLlon or 2)Lo check volcemalls whlle we are on vacaLlon.
?ou may also do lL by emall:
1. Co Lo vonage.com and cllck on Manage My Account.
2. LnLer SCAS's 10-dlglL phone number and use SCAS196S as Lhe password.
3. Choose vo|cema||, and you should be able Lo see all volcemalls LhaL we've recelved Lhem and Lhe
phone number from whlch we recelved Lhem. 1o llsL en Lo Lhe volcemall you can cllck Lhe llsLen llnk and
lL'll download Lhe message as a WAv flle onLo your compuLer. vonage's webslLe ls very slow Lhough. lf
you plan Lo call many cllenLs, use Lhls as a way Lo [oL down Lhe numbers and call Lhe cllenLs back. CllenLs
ofLen reLell Lhelr sLorles, so noL havlng Lhe case lnfo ls noL a huge deal as long as you evenLually puL a ll
Lhe lnformaLlon onLo Lhe l3.
1he I3 - now to Use It
1he l3 ls Lhe sofLware by whlch SCAS deals wlLh lLs cllenLs. ?ou amy enLer new cllenLs, work wlLh exlsLlng
cllenLs, and perform many of Lhe Lasks LhaL belng a SCAS volunLeer requlres. Learnlng how Lo use Lhe l3
ls crlLlcal Lo your success as a volunLeer.
Logg|ng Cn
Cn Lhe offlce compuLer, sLarL up llrefox and you should see several Labs prel oaded on Lhe compuLer.
Cne of Lhem ls Lhe SCAS l3. Cllck on lL. 1here, you wlll be prompLed wlLh a username and assword. 1he
username ls SCAS whlle Lhe password ls Lhe same as Lhe password for volcemalls. Cnce you've puL LhaL
on, you wlll be Laken Lo Lhe maln screen for Lhe l3. ?ou wlll noLlce Lhree lLems on Lhe screen.
11


1. 1he only pull down menu has a llsL of every volunLeer. Slmply scroll down Lo your name, cllck lL, and
Lhen press Lhe "Log ln" buLLon Lo log ln. ?ou'll know LhaL you've logged ln when Lhe bar CurrenLly Logged
ln As: has your name nexL Lo lL.
2. lf your name does noL appear, Lhen you may have Lo creaLe a new user proflle. 1o do, slmply cllck Lhe
CreaLe new user proflle buLLon. lL wlll requesL your name, Lmall Address, ?ear of CraduaLlon, wheLher
or noL you are a comper, and any parLlcular commlLLee membershlps you may have. Cnce you have
fllled ln Lhe lnformaLlon, cllck Lhe creaLe user proflle buLLon. ?ou wlll Lhen be able Lo flnd your name ln
Lhe server.
Cnce lnslde, you wlll noLlce many buLLons.
1he ma|n menu buLLon Lakes you Lo Lhe maln screen you see when you lmmedlaLely log lnLo lL.
1he database menu wlll allow you Lo flnd exlstloq clleots/eotet oew clleots, look aL coses by ptlotlty,
vlew o llst of clleots tbot ote cotteotly lo tbe system, vlew coses by coteqoty (sorLed by callback prlorlLy),
or tetoto to tbe molo meoo.
1he ||st of cases by pr|or|ty llsLs ouL cllenLs LhaL currenLly need Lo be servlced. lL ls sorLed ln order of
case sLaLus, wlLh urgenL cases belng aL Lhe Lop, followed by phone Lag cases, Lhen cllenLs who have
never been conLacLed. CllenLs who have one message lefL wlll flll Lhe remalnder of Lhe screen.
1he f|nd]add c||ent Lab wlll allow you Lo search for cllenLs or add new cllenLs Lo Lhe daLabase. lL
crosschecks Lhe daLabase Lo ensure LhaL Lhere are currenLly noL cllenLs LhaL maLch Lhe cllenL LhaL you
are abouL Lo puL ln Lo avold dupllcaLlon.
1he SCAS |eaderboard ls a fun, compeLlLlve way Lo evaluaLe how you sLack agalnsL Lhe resL of Lhe
volunLeers ln Lhe organlzaLlon. 1here are Lhree dlfferenL caLegorles Lo compeLe agalnsL. 1he flrsL
caLegory only measures how many cllenLs LhaL you have called and helped by phone. 1he second
caLegory evaluaLes everyLhlng excepL cllenLs LhaL you have puL ln Lhe sysLem. 1haL means any messages
lefL, any calls LhaL you have made, or calls LhaL you have recelved. 1he flnal caLegory analyzes all
caLegorles Lo see who has acLually lnpuL Lhe mosL daLa.
C||ents and the I3 - 1he stepw|se approach
When puLLlng ln new cllenLs who have lefL messages, follow Lhese sLeps:
1. Co Lo Lhe llnd/Add CllenL Lab.
2. LnLer Lhe flrsL and lasL name of Lhe cllenL ln Lhe respecLlve sloLs.
3. lace Lhe Lelephone number ln Lhe prlmary phone and, lf posslble, speclfy wlLh Lhe drop down menu
nexL Lo lL lf lL ls a home, work, or cell phone number.
12

4. uL an addlLlonal number ln Lhe secondary phone lf lL ls provlded, along wlLh whaL number lL ls lf
posslble.
3. lf Lhe cllenL speaks a language ouLslde of Lngllsh, puL lL ln Lhe sloL for Language. 8y defaulL, Lngllsh
wlll appear.
6. lf you have lL, place Lhe emall for Lhe cllenL. lease remember, you do nC1 need Lo puL cllenLs who
emall us ln Lhe l3. ?ou should, however, check Lhe l3 when answerlng emalls Lo make sure LhaL Lhe
person you are helplng Lhrough emall has noL already been helped C8 LhaL Lhe person ls noL llsLed as an
lndlvldual who ls ln need of help. lf you run lnLo a cllenL who has lefL an emall and called Lhe phone,
make sure LhaL on Lhe cllenL's flle LhaL you are deallng wlLh Lo mark how Lhe cllenL ls belng dealL wlLh.
7. Cnce you have flnlshed, press Lhe submlL cllenL buLLon.
Cnce you have submlLLed, you wlll be Laken Lo elLher one of Lwo screens. lf Lhe cllenL does noL exlsL ln
Lhe sysLem, Lhe screen wlll Lell you LhaL Lhere are no maLches ln Lhe record. lf, howe ver, Lhere are
posslble maLches, you wlll be Laken Lo a screen LhaL sLaLes oLher cllenLs maLched Lhe daLa you enLered.
8L SUkL 1C CnLCk C1nLk CLILN1S II 1nLkL AkL C1LN1IAL CLILN1S. CfLen Llme a cllenL has already
called and lefL a message, meanlng LhaL we have a case record for Lhem already. Whlle names may
someLlmes maLch, be sure Lo check Lhe phone numbers for posslble maLches. lf you flnd someone who
already maLches your cllenL, Lhen cllck Lhe maLch's buLLon and Lhen hlL SelecL CllenL. lf you do noL see
any maLches, Lhen selecL Lhe lasL cholce LhaL says Add new wlLh Lhe new lnformaLlon LhaL you [usL
enLered. Cnce LhaL has happened, press Lhe cholce, Lhen hlL selecL cllenL.
?ou wlll Lhen be Laken Lo Lhe Maln CllenL AsslsLance uaLabase. 1he CllenL lnfo Lab has all lnformaLlon
relevanL Lo a cllenL. lL wlll lnclude name, number, address, language, noLes, and oLher lnformaLlon.
AlLhough mosL of Lhls lnformaLlon wlll never be fllled ouL, flll lL ouL as Lhe lnformaLlon becomes
avallable.
1he Case lnfo ls Lhe mosL lmporLanL secLlon. When enLerlng a new cllenL, lL wlll be blank. lf a cllenL has a
courL appolnLmenL wlLhln Lhe week, has a quesLlon abouL AuLo Law, or ls lnvolved ln someLhlng LhaL
requlres lmmedlaLe response, mark Lhe case as urgenL. lf a cllenL ls mar ked urgenL, call Lhem back
yourself lMMLulA1LL?. lf lL ls posslble, ldenLlfy Lhe case by Lype ln Lhe Case CaLegory drop down menu.
MosL of Lhe caLegorles wlll correspond Lo Lhe name of Lhe chapLers ln Lhe manual.
lf you know Lhe name of Lhe CpponenL, place lL ln Lhe name as well.
1he noLes secLlon ls where you wlll puL any lnformaLlon relevanL Lo Lhe case. When you have Laken a
message, place Lhe noLes of Lhe message ln Lhe noLes. lace Lhe daLe LhaL you Look Lhe message, Lhe
message, and aL Lhe end of lL, place your emall address (ex. Laylor8[fas or kwalsh[college) so LhaL lf
Lhere are quesLlons abouL whaL you wroLe, someone can conLacL you. When you have flnlshed puLLlng
lnformaLlon ln Lhe noLes secLlon, be sure Lo press Lhe updaLe CllenL 8ecord. lf you do noL, lL wlll noL
save your changes Lo Lhe lnformaLlon.
13

Cnce you have flnlshed lnpuLLlng daLa lnLo Lhe case lnfo secLlon, cllck on Lhe Lab conLacL lnfo and selecL
Lhe correcLlon opLlon dependlng upon whaL you have done. When done, cllck add new Lo updaLe lL as Lo
Lhe lasL acLlon Laken.
Ca|||ng Lx|st|ng C||ents
When calllng cllenLs back, go Lo Lhe LlsL of Cases by rlorlLy Lab. 1here you wlll see cllenLs arrayed. ?ou
should answer cllenLs ln Lhe followlng prlorlLy:
1. CllenLs marked urgenL
2. CllenLs who have never been conLacLed (sLarLlng from Lhe boLLom and worklng up)
3. Lveryone else (phone Lag)
AfLer havlng dealL wlLh a cllenL, be sure Lo
1. 1ake uemographlc lnformaLlon (locaLed under Lhe demographlc lnfo Lab under a cllenL's lnformaLlon).
lL lncludes a dlalogue Lo use. use lL verbaLlm.
2. updaLe Lhe Case lnfo (uon'L forgeL Lo press updaLe CllenL 8ecord when done!)
3. Co Lo ConLacL lnfo and flll ln Lhe approprlaLe response.
1roub|eshoot|ng
lf you have any problems wlLh Lhe l3, follow Lhe Lechnology referral proLocol llsLed ln Lhls gulde.
keferra|s and 8as|c rocedures
8elow are procedures for referrlng cllenLs elLher Lo oLher legal remedles or for deallng wlLh problems
and quesLlons LhaL come up. lollow Lhe procedures so LhaL Lhlngs run ln a smooLh and orderly fashlon.
8egardless of wheLher or noL you know who Lo conLacL personally, lCLLCW 1PL 8CCLuu8LS. lf you do
noL, your requesLs wlll mosL llkely nC1 be answered.
Med|at|on and Arb|trat|on
ln cases LhaL are personal or famlly relaLed dlspuLes, we Lend Lo encourage our cllenLs Lo seek
medlaLlon/arblLraLlon over lmmedlaLely golng Lo small clalms courL so LhaL Lhere ls a chance Lo conLlnue
Lhe relaLlonshlp afLer Lhe case.
lease refer cllenLs who you Lhlnk would beneflL from medlaLlon/arblLraLlon Lo Lhe Parvard MedlaLlon
rogram aL Lhe Parvard Law School aL 617-493-1834.
1he followlng cases may be good for referral:
14

* roblems noL easlly resolved by courL seLLlemenL (lf lL lsn'L "all abouL Lhe money")
* LmoLlonal dlspuLes
* arLles wlLh conLlnulng relaLlonshlps
1o refer lndlvlduals Lo medlaLlon, use Lhe followlng scrlpL:
* l would also llke Lo suggesL a posslble alLernaLlve Lo golng Lo courL. Are you famlllar wlLh medlaLlon?"
* lf Lhey have noL heard of lL before: "MedlaLlon ls a volunLary process almed aL resolvlng dlspuLes
ouLslde of courL. 1he medlaLor ls noL a [udge and he or she does noL make a rullng. 8aLher, Lhe medlaLor
ls a Lralned communlLy member who helps you have a consLrucLlve dlscusslon wlLh Lhe oLher parLy ln
order Lo reach agreemenL."
* "1here are several advanLages Lo medlaLlon. ln small clalms courL, Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe hears each slde
and renders a flnal declslon on who wlns or loses. ln medlaLlon, you have Lhe chance Lo Lell your whole
sLory and work ouL a hollsLlc soluLlon LhaL ls accepLable Lo boLh you and Lhe oLher parLy. LveryLhlng ls
volunLary and confldenLlal. lf you do noL reach a seLLlemenL ln medlaLlon, you reLaln Lhe rlghL Lo go Lo
courL."
Iore|gn Language C||ent
lf you recelve a message from a cllenL who does noL speak Lngllsh or abouL a cllenL who ls need of
forelgn language legal servlces, Lake Lhe followlng acLlons:
1. 1ell your cllenL you wlll conLacL lorelgn Language.
2. Lmall masmallclalms[gmall.com wlLh Lhe sub[ecL llne sLaLlng "lC8LlCn LAnCuACL"
3. ln Lhe body, lnclude Lhe cllenL name, phone number, language and a brlef synopsls of Lhe case.
1haL emall ls Lhen forwarded Lo Lhe CuLreach ulrecLor ln charge of Cn-Campus ouLreach. ln Lhe case of
an emergency, call Lhe Cn-Campus CuLreach ulrecLor.
C||ent Meet|ng kequest or Court Accompan|ment:
lf a cllenL requesLs a meeLlng or a courL accompanlmenL, follow Lhe procedure below:
1. 1ell Lhe cllenL LhaL you wlll conLacL CllenL MeeLlngs/CourL AccompanlmenLs. DC NC1 SCnLDULL AN
ACIN1MLN1 Ck GIVL A LkSCNAL LMAIL 1C 1nL CLILN1S.
2. Lmall masmallclalms[gmall.com wlLh Lhe sub[ecL llne sLaLlng "CLILN1 MLL1ING"
3. ln Lhe body, lnclude Lhe cllenL name and phone number.
13

1haL emall wlll be forwarded Lo Lhe CllenL Servlces and Cfflce ulrecLor. ln Lhe evenL of an emergency,
call Lhe CllenL Servlces and Cfflce ulrecLor.
Lega| kesearch uest|ons
Cn occaslon, you wlll run lnLo a cllenL who may have a parLlcular legal lssue LhaL may noL clearly be
found ln Lhe manual. ln cases llke Lhls, make sure LhaL 1)Lhe answer ls nC1 ln Lhe manual and 2)LhaL Lhe
answer ls noL locaLed on Lhe SCAS wlkl. CuesLlons LhaL are found ln Lhe manual WlLL nC1 be answered
and you wlll look llke an ldloL.
lf Lhe answer ls noL ln elLher locaLlon, Lhen follow Lhe procedure ouLllned below:
1. 1ell Lhe cllenL LhaL you wlll geL back Lo Lhem.
2. Lmall masmallclalms[gmall.com wlLh Lhe sub[ecL llne as "LLGAL kLSLAkCn" ln Lhe sub[ecL.
3. ln Lhe body of Lhe emall, sLaLe Lhe name of Lhe cllenL, phone number, facLs perLlnenL Lo Lhe legal
quesLlon and Lhe acLual legal quesLlon.
Legal 8esearch wlll Lhen emall you back wlLhln 48 hours wlLh Lhe answer so LhaL you can glve Lhe cllenL a
call back wlLh Lhe answers.
ln Lhe evenL Lhere ls an emergency, call Lhe Legal 8esearch ulrecLor.
1echno|ogy
lf you encounLer any problems wlLh Lhe l3, Lhe volcemall sysLem, or oLher Lechnology, follow Lhls
procedure:
1. Lmall masmallclalms[gmall.com wlLh Lhe sub[ecL llne sLaLlng "1LCPnCLCC?"
2. lnclude Lhe problem, whaL you were dolng, and where lL Look place (l.e. Lhe offlce, your personal
compuLer, eLc.) ln Lhe body of Lhe emall.
1haL emall wlll Lhen be senL Lo Lhe 1echnology ulrecLor. lf Lhere ls an emergency, call Lhe 1echnology
ulrecLor.
All oLher lnqulrles should be forwarded Lo Lhe LxecuLlve ulrecLor.
Check|ng Lma||s
AlLhough we deal wlLh a greaL number of cllenLs by phone, many Llmes cllenLs wlll emall us for fasLer
servlce. As of now, Lhe emalls are dealL wlLh excluslvely by Lhe Legal 8esearch CommlLLee.
ln order Lo answer emalls, slmply follow Lhe procedure ouLllned below:
16

1. Co Lo gmall.com and log lnLo Lhe accounL. 1he gmall username ls masmallclalms and Lhe password ls
SCAS1963.
2. Lmalls are caLegorlzed based upon Lhe sub[ecL maLLer. Lmalls are Lo be labeled and Lhen archlved
when answered Lo malnLaln order and ensure LhaL emalls LhaL are answered are puL ln a seL locaLlon. lf
an lndlvldual emalls you whlle lL ls archlved, lL wlll reLurn Lo Lhe lnbox.
3. When answerlng emalls, be sure Lo check Lhe l3 for cllenLs Lo ensure LhaL we are noL dupllcaLlng Lhe
same cases. lf a cllenL who emalled you has also lefL a message and has noL been called, wrlLe on Lhe
cllenL's case lnfo LhaL he or she ls belng dealL wlLh vla emall along wlLh your emall address so LhaL any
furLher lnqulrles wlll be handled by you.
1he gmall accounL ls also where all requesLs for referrals are done. Any requesLs LhaL are senL should be:
1. Labeled approprlaLely
2. lorwarded Lo Lhe respecLlve dlrecLor
Ld|t|ng the W|k|
LdlLs Lo Lhe wlkl should only be made by Lhe Legal 8esearch ulrecLor. lf you noLlce any changes LhaL
need Lo be made ln Lhe wlkl, send an emall Lo Lhe legal research dlrecLor LhaL sLaLes whaL needs Lo be
changed on whaL speclflc page.







17

Chapter 1
Genera| rocedure
Small clalms courL ls Lhe way ln whlch MassachuseLLs clLlzens and buslnesses can resolve dl spuLes
wlLhouL an aLLorney's help. known as Lhe people's courL," Lhls lnformal and lnexpenslve forum ls
deslgned Lo help resolve legal dlspuLes of $7000 or less, and ls run somewhaL llke Lhe hlL 1v show of Lhe
same name. lL ls unnecessary Lo use legal Lerms ln small clalms courL, and lL ls acLually noL advlsable Lo
Lry Lo acL llke a lawyer" when presenLlng a small clalms case. 8aLher, a clear, conclse, and well -
supporLed sLory ls Lhe besL weapon. SCAS callers wlll llkely know someLhlng abouL small clalms courL and
lLs procedures before Lhey call, buL ofLen Lhls knowledge wlll be preLLy vague. Cur [ob ls Lo clarlfy Lhe
lns-and-ouLs of Lhe small clalms sysLem ln MassachuseLLs and make callers feel more empowered Lo
exerclse Lhelr rlghLs Lhrough Lhls venue.
1hls chapLer wlll go Lhrough Lhe baslc procedure lnvolved ln seLLllng a dlspuLe. 1he chapLers LhaL follow
wlll dlscuss, ln greaLer deLall, Lhe laws mosL relevanL Lo Lhe cases we hear, however, Lhe lnformaLlon ln
Lhls chapLer applles Lo all small clalms dlspuLes. 8e sure Lo read carefully! And remember, small clalms
courL ls noL Lhe only opLlon for resolvlng dlspuLes lnvolvlng less Lhan $7000 - seLLlemenL Lhrough
negoLlaLlon, medlaLlon, or arblLraLlon ls ofLen [usL as (lf noL more) effecLlve. 8e sure Lo remlnd callers of
Lhese opLlons as well.
8efore Sma|| C|a|ms Court
Ir|end|y Negot|at|on ls Lhe flrsL sLep lndlvlduals should conslder Laklng Lo resolve a dlspuLe. SomeLlmes
all lL Lakes ls a conversaLlon Lo work ouL a muLually agreeable soluLlon.
Med|at|on ls anoLher good way Lo resolve dlspuLes. uL slmply, medlaLlon ls formal negoLlaLlon," an
opporLunlLy for boLh parLles Lo slL down ln Lhe presence of a neuLral moderaLor Lo aLLempL Lo seLLle
Lhelr dlsagreemenL. lL ls mosL successful when boLh parLles are wlll lng Lo compromlse Lo avold Lhe
hassle of golng Lo courL and/or when Lhe Lwo sldes have an ongolng personal (or buslness) relaLlonshlp
LhaL mlghL become sLralned should acLual llLlgaLlon" Lake place. A few Lhlngs Lo know abouL medlaLlon:
lL ls ooo-bloJloq, whlch means LhaL Lhe medlaLor cannoL force (or enforce) a declslon. lf an
agreemenL ls reached, lL wlll be, by deflnlLlon, an agreemenL LhaL saLlsfles boLh parLles.
1he medlaLor acLs as a go-beLween for Lhe Lwo parLles, ofLen asklng one parLy whaL he wanL s
from Lhe seLLlemenL, presenLlng Lhls proposal Lo Lhe oLher parLy, llsLenlng Lo hls counLeroffer,
presenLlng Lhls Lo Lhe orlglnal parLy, and so on unLll an agreemenL ls reached (or Lhe parLles
agree LhaL Lhey cannoL agree!)
MedlaLlon can be tetmlooteJ aL ooy polot durlng Lhe process by ooy potty for ooy teosoo. 1hls
facL may ofLen help one parLy convlnce Lhe oLher parLy Lo agree Lo medlaLlon, as Lhey can
remlnd Lhe relucLanL parLy LhaL he can "opL ouL" aL any polnL.
18

ConsenLlng Lo medlaLlon Joes oot prevenL elLher parLy from flllng a small clalm, should
medlaLlon fall Lo lead Lo an agreemenL. 1here ls no harm done Lo aL leasL tty medlaLlon when a
dlspuLe arlses. lf lL does noL work, a clalm can follow.
MedlaLlon ls usually conducLed aL no cosL Lo Lhe Lwo parLles and ls always done wlLhouL a
lawyer.
Why should parLles chose medlaLlon? lL works. When people volunLarlly medlaLe, Lhe overwhelmlng
ma[orlLy of dlspuLes are seLLled. Also, people who go Lhrough medlaLlon are more llkely Lo be saLlsfled
wlLh Lhe resulL Lhan people who go Lo Lrlal, because Lhey have more opporLunlLy Lo Lake parL ln Lhe
declslon. lor Lhe same reason, people who reach a medlaLed seLLlemenL are much more llkely Lo pay
Lhan people who recelve a [udgmenL Lhrough Lrlal. MedlaLlon provldes a good answer Lo Lhe mosL
common complalnLs abouL Lhe small clalms courL process: excesslve delay, hlgh cosL Lo llLlganLs,
cumbersome procedures, and lnaccesslblllLy. ln addlLlon, small clalms courL clerk-maglsLraLes are ofLen
more sympaLheLlc Lo cases when Lhey know LhaL parLles have already Lrled medlaLlon. 1he courL ofLen
noLlfles Lhe plalnLlff abouL Lhe opLlon Lo medlaLe and submlLs Lhe clalm Lo medlaLlon aL Lhe requesL of
elLher parLy and wlLh Lhe agreemenL of boLh parLles.
1

Arb|trat|on ls anoLher means of resolvlng a dlspuLe before golng Lhrough Lhe small clalms courL sysLem.
1he prlmary dlfference beLween arblLraLlon and medlaLlon ls LhaL otblttotloo ls bloJloq, unless
oLherwlse agreed.
2
lf Lhe parLles cannoL come Lo muLually saLlsfacLory agreemenL afLer meeLlng wlLh an
arblLraLor, Lhen Lhls arblLraLor ls bound Lo come Lo a declslon, [usL as a [udge would. 1hl s declslon ls flool
and coooot be oppeoleJ, excepL under very speclflc cases of error.
3
lL becomes a declslon of Lhe courL.
4

Some Lhlngs Lo keep ln mlnd abouL arblLraLlon:
ArblLraLlon ls pursued losteoJ of golng Lo small clalms courL. An unhappy parLy cannoL Lake Lhe
case Lo small clalms courL afLer golng Lhrough arblLraLlon.
lL usually Lakes place wlLhouL Lhe ald of a lawyer.
3

As wlLh small clalms courL, Lhe cosLs of arblLraLlon may be lncluded ln Lhe award, unless
oLherwlse proved. 1hls does noL lnclude counsel fees.
6

ArblLraLlon ls usually fasLer Lhan small clalms courL (l.e. you can usually schedule an arblLraLlon
daLe earller Lhan you could schedule a small clalms courL daLe).
ArblLraLlon ls a very common way of deallng wlLh Lhe MassachuseLLs Lemon Law (see
AuLomoblle Law for deLalls on Lhe Lemon Law).


1
M.C.L. c. 218, 22
2
Some manufacLurer-sponsored auLomoblle arblLraLlon programs, such as lord's ulspuLe SeLLlemenL 8oard, ls
blndlng only on Lhe manufacLurer. 1here are oLher cases of non-blndlng arblLraLlon.
3
M.C.L. c. 231, 18
4
M.C.L. c. 231, 14
3
AlLhough, under Lhe unlform ArblLraLlon AcL for Commerclal ulspuLes, M.C.L. c. 231, 6, a parLy has Lhe rlghL Lo
be represenLed by an aLLorney.
6
M.C.L. c. 231, 10
19

AlLhough arblLraLlon has some dlsadvanLages, lL ls worLh conslderlng ln cases where parLles see k a qulck
and equlLable soluLlon or lf Lhe dlspuLed amounL exceeds Lhe small clalms llmlL of $7000.
A '''uemand LeLLer''' ls Lhe flnal pre-small clalms sLep. lf medlaLlon and/or arblLraLlon cannoL resolve Lhe
dlspuLe (or one or more parLles does noL agree Lo medlaLlon/arblLraLlon), Lhen Lhe lndlvldual who has
suffered (a.k.a. Lhe fuLure plalnLlff) should wrlLe a 30-day demand leLLer Lo Lhe lndlvldual or buslness
who ls llable for Lhe sufferlng (a.k.a. Lhe fuLure defendanL), explalnlng Lhe complalnL and dema ndlng
speclflc compensaLlon for Lhe damage caused. Al Lhough Lhese leLLers are only tepolteJ for consumer
law cases LhaL fall under ChapLer 93A
7
(See Consumer Law for more lnformaLlon), Lhey are vety helpful
ln a|| small clalms cases. SCAS usually recommends wrlLlng a demand leLLer as Lhe flrsL sLep Lowards
flllng a small clalm. A 30-day demand leLLer should be typed, lf posslble, and should lnclude:
A chronology of Lhe evenLs prompLlng Lhe leLLer. 1hls should lnclude Lhe daLes and deLalls of all
relevanL lnLeracLlons, as well as an explanaLlon of why Lhe plalnLlff feels he has been wronged
(l.e. whaL laws have been broken/rlghLs have been vlolaLed).
A sLaLemenL of Lhe remedy Lhe plalnLlff requesLs (paymenL ln Lhe amounL of $300 or correcLlon
of Lhe shoddy repalr work, for example).
A clear sLaLemenL LhaL lnforms Lhe reader LhaL, lf Lhls demand ls noL meL wlLhln LhlrLy days (a
recommended, noL mandaLory, perlod of Llme), he wlll be sub[ecL Lo legal proceedlngs ln small
clalms courL.
ln shorL, a demand leLLer should be a conclse sLaLemenL of Lhe plalnLlff's slde of Lhe case. A cllenL who
succeeds aL organlzlng hls LhoughLs lnLo a compelllng demand leLLer usually has a well LhoughL -ouL case
LhaL would be easy Lo presenL lf lL goes all Lhe way Lo small clalms courL. lndlvlduals wrlLlng demand
leLLers should always:
keep ot leost ooe copy of Lhe leLLer for hls own records. A demand |etter |s a very he|pfu| p|ece
of ev|dence |n court, as |t shows that the p|a|nt|ff made a "good fa|th effort" to reso|ve the
s|tuat|on pr|or to br|ng|ng |t to court.
Send a copy of Lhls leLLer Lo Lhe parLy who has caused hlm Lo suffer a moneLary loss. 1hls may be
a LenanL, landlord, car dealer, Lravel agenL, nexL -door nelghbor, mechanlc, ex-roommaLe, eLc. lf
Lhe responslble parLy ls a buslness, Lhe demand leLLer musL be addressed Lo Lhe ptopet bosloess
oome, and noL Lo an lndlvldual. roper bus|ness names can be obLalned Lhrough Lhe SecreLary
of Lhe CommonwealLh's CorporaLlons ulvlslon. lndlvlduals can access Lhe publlc records by
calllng (617) 727-9640 or by wrlLlng Lo "SecreLary of Lhe CommonwealLh, CorporaLlons ulvlslon,
Cne AshburLon lace, 17Lh floor, 8osLon, MA 02108."
Send Lhe leLLer cert|f|ed ma||, return rece|pt requested Anu regu|ar, f|rst c|ass ma||.
8
lf Lhe
sender recelves Lhe cerLlfled mall recelpL back (lndlcaLlng LhaL lL was noL recelved), he should

7
M.C.L. c. 93A, 9(3A)
8
A user's Culde Lo Lhe Consumer roLecLlon SLaLuLe, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce webslLe.
20

hold onLo Lhls as poLenLlal evldence ln courL. lf noL, however, he can assume Lhe leLLer was
recelved os looq os tbe fltst closs moll ls oot tetotoeJ to blm
9

I|||ng a C|a|m
I|||ng a Sma|| C|a|m ls Lhe nexL sLep. lf Lhe wrlLer of a demand leLLer does noL have hls demands meL
wlLhln Lhe span of Llme speclfled ln Lhe leLLer (agaln, 30 days* ls a popular Llme wlndow), he may go
forward and flle a clalm ln small clalms courL. lalnLlffs should hold onLo a copy of Lhe demand leLLer and
also Lake noLe of any lnLeracLlons beLween Lhe Lwo parLles (aLLempLed medlaLlon, phone conversaLlons,
eLc.), as Lhese may be relevanL laLer on.
*1he only Llme you have Lo use Lhe full 30 days ls ln slLuaLlons where you are sulng for double/Lreble
damages beyond Lhe $7,000 small clalms llmlL, oLherwlse Lhe number of days ls up Lo your own
dlscreLlon.
Who can Sue?
Any person of legal age may flle a clalm ln hls or her own name as plalnLlff.
10
A parenL or guardlan can
flle a sulL on behalf of a mlnor.
11
AuLomoblle damages musL be sued for by Lhe reglsLered owner (noL Lhe
drlver, lf Lhere ls a dlscrepancy beLween Lhe Lwo).
Who to Sue?
lL ls very lmporLanL LhaL a plalnLlff ls sulng Lhe correcL person.
lf lL ls a personal dlspuLe (l.e. noL agalnsL a buslness of any sorL), Lhe person(s) who commlLLed
Lhe acLlon/broke Lhe conLracL/falled Lo acL ls llable.
lf he ls sulng a proprleLorshlp, Lhe slngle owner ls llable.
lf he ls sulng a parLnershlp, Lhen parLners are llable.
lor corporaLlons, Lhe person flllng Lhe clalm musL wrlLe down Lhe name of Lhe corporaLlon.
CllenLs should noL llsL parLlcular lndlvlduals unless Lhey are sulng Lhem dlrecLly. A person can
flnd Lhe real legal name of Lhe buslness by checklng wlLh Lhe Sec reLary of Lhe CommonwealLh's
CorporaLlons ulvlslon.
1he |ong-arm statute of Massachusetts
lf a cllenL ls sulng a person/corporaLlon LhaL ls locaLed out of state, he may do so lf Lhe parLy belng sued
LransacLs any buslness ln MassachuseLLs, conLracLs Lo supply servlces ln MassachuseLLs, or has an
lnLeresL ln uslng or possesslng real properLy ln MassachuseLLs. lf Lhe person/corporaLlon has done
someLhlng or falled Lo do someLhlng ouLslde of Lhe MassachuseLLs, he can sLlll be sued ln MassachuseLLs

9
unlform Small Clalms rules, 8ule 3(a)
10
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 3:02
11
1be Attotoey Ceoetol's ColJe to 5moll clolms coott, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce WebslLe
21

lf hls acLlon (or fallure Lo acL) causes ln[ury LhaL occurs wlLhln MassachuseLLs and lf he regularly sollclLs
buslness or derlves subsLanLlal revenue from goods used or servlces rendered ln MassachuseLLs.
12

CLherwlse, he cannoL be sued ln MassachuseLLs.
Where to Sue?
1here are flve places a small clalm can be flled:
13

Where Lhe plalnLlff llves
Where Lhe plalnLlff works/has hls buslness
Where Lhe defendanL llves
Where Lhe defendanL works/has hls buslness
Where Lhe properLy ls locaLed (ln landlord-LenanL cases)
1he plalnLlff can choose among Lhe dlsLrlcL courLs LhaL represenL Lhose above flve opLlons. Genera||y, |t
|s better to f||e a c|a|m |n the d|str|ct that |s most conven|ent for the !"#"$!%$& (|.e. where the
defendant ||ves or works), because |t makes co||ect|on eas|er |ater on. Powever, no clalm wlll be
re[ecLed lf Lhe venue ls found lmproper.
14
1he courL wlll normally refer cllenLs Lo Lhe proper venue
unless Lhere ls reason Lo Lhlnk LhaL Lhe defendanL wlll walve hls rlghL Lo proper venue
13
> or lf flllng musL
be lmmedlaLe Lo be permlLLed under Lhe sLaLuLe of llmlLaLlons.
16

What to Sue Ior?
Crdlnarlly, whenever one parLy can show LhaL he has suffered a loss of no more Lhan $7000 LhaL
anoLher parLy should be legally held accounLable for, he may flle a clalm ln small clalms courL. AlLhough
Lhe orlglnal acLlon broughL musL lnclude a clalm for moneLary damages, Lhe courL may or der non-
moneLary, or "equlLable" rellef, such as spec|f|c performance, lnsLead of, or ln addlLlon Lo, damages.
17

lor example, lf you sued your nelghbor for falllng Lo mow your lawn desplLe your paylng hlm Lo do so,
Lhe courL could award you moneLary damages ot order your nelghbor Lo mow Lhe lawn ot boLh.
Powever, you cannoL flle a clalm solely for equlLable rellef.
1here are a few cases LhaL coooot be broughL Lo small clalms courL, however. 1hese l nclude: (1) s|ander
or ||be| cases
18
and (2) clalms aga|nst the Commonwea|th, a counLy, or munlclpallLy
19
LhaL are broughL
under Lhe MassachuseLLs LorL.


12
M.C.L. c. 223A, 3
13
M.C.L. c. 218, 21.
14
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 3:02
13
M.C.L. c. 218, 21
16
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 3:02
17
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 7:02
18
M.C.L. c. 218, 21
19
M.C.L. c. 212, 3
22

now Much to Sue Ior?
1he mooetoty llmlt ln small clalms courL ls $7000 plus courL cosLs, wlLh Lhree excepLlons:
lf a small clalm falls under ChapLer 93A and lnvolves unfalr or decepLlve buslness prac Llces,
double or Lreble (Lrlple) damages may be awarded for a LoLal of up Lo $21000.
20

ln cerLaln landlord/LenanL cases, double or Lreble damages may be awarded, agaln up Lo
$21000.
21

*AuLomoblle accldenL cases (l.e. cases lnvolvlng properLy damage caused by a moLor vehlcle)
are an excepLlon and have no moneLary llmlL.
22
ersonal ln[ury cases caused by auLomoblle
accldenLs, however, musL elLher meeL Lhe $7,000 llmlL or be flled ln formal clvll courL.
AlLhough a plalnLlff may sue Lhe same parLy ln small clalms courL mulLlple Llmes for dlfferenL clalms - as
ln, moneLary damages arlslng from compleLely dlfferenL LransacLlons or l n[urlous acLlons - and hence
recoverlng move Lhan $7,000 from a slngle parLy, he may noL spllL a clalm lnLo mulLlple parLs.
23

lurLhermore, lf Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe deLecLs an "arLlflclal dlvlslon of Lhe clalm Lo brlng lL wlLhln Lhe small
clalms llmlLs," he ls obllged Lo Lransfer lL lmmedlaLely Lo Lhe clvll dockeL.
24

lalnLlffs may sue for any or all of Lhe below, buL may noL sue for punlLlve damages. Pe may also lnclude
any courL cosLs lncurred, such as:
roperLy damage/loss
uocLor's bllls
8epalr of properLy
ConsequenLlal damages (l.e. Lhe cosL of renLlng a car lf such a renLal was made necessary by
shoddy repalr work LhaL had Lo be correcLed).
LosL wages
Any oLher "damages" LhaL can be "moneLlzed" ln some way
ln some cases, a plalnLlff may be able Lo sue for menLal dlsLress or paln and sufferlng. 1hough
noL expllclLly precluded, Lhe cllenL should be warned LhaL cerL aln dlsLrlcLs do noL permlL lL. lL ls
also uncerLaln lf any welghL ls glven Lo Lhese clalms.
keep ln mlnd LhaL a plalnLlff can, aL '()& be awarded Lhe amounL he asks for on hls clalm form. lor Lhls
reason, lL ls wlse noL Lo underesLlmaLe. 1he clerk-maglsLraLe can declde Lo award Lhe plalnLlff less Lhan
Lhls amounL lf he belleves some of lL Lo be frlvolous, buL he cannoL award more Lhan whaL Lhe plalnL lff
asked for. lf a plalnLlff Lhlnks he ls ellglble for double or Lreble damages, he should lndlcaLe Lhls on Lhe
"descrlpLlon of Lhe clalm" parL of Lhe clalm form (buL should flll Lhe "clalm amounL" box wlLh Lhe $7,000
or less LhaL was orlglnally owed before Lhe doubllng or Lrlpllng of damages).

20
M.C.L. c. 93A, 9(3A).
21
M.C.L. c. 186, 138(7)
22
M.C.L. c. 218, 21
23
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 3:01
24
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 3:03
23


lL ls also worLh keeplng ln mlnd LhaL a plalnLlff can only recover Lhe ''falr markeL value'' for damaged or
mlsslng properLy.
23
1hls ls oot Lhe replacemenL value (l.e. how much Lhe lLem would cosL Lo replace aL
Loday's prlces), buL raLher ls Lhe amounL Lhe lLem was worLh when lL was damaged or losL (an amounL
LhaL ls llkely Lhe orlglnal prlce of Lhe lLem, less depreclaLlon).
1he C|a|m Iorm ls a slmple documenL, however, callers ofLen ask for help ln fllllng lL ouL.
A Statement of C|a|m and Not|ce Iorm (Lhe offlclal name of Lhe Small Clalms CourL clalm form) can be
obLalned from Lhe Small Clalms CourL Clerk aL Lhe dlsLrlcL courLhouse ln whlch Lhe clalm wlll be flled. lL
can be plcked up ln person or requesLed by mall .
26
1he courL encourages mosL people Lo flle Lhrough
mall.<ref>SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 3:02</ref> 1hey wlll usually mall a small clalms form requesLed
over Lelephone aL no cosL Lo Lhe caller. A copy of Lhe SLaLemenL of Clalm and noLlce form ls lncluded ln
Lhe appendlx of Lhls manual.
1he D|rectory of Sma|| C|a|ms Courts ln MassachuseLLs can be used Lo provlde addresses and phone
numbers of all dlsLrlcL courLs.
A Statute of L|m|tat|ons ls also avallable Lo help cllenLs by verlfylng LhaL Lhey are sLlll able Lo sue over a
parLlcular dlspuLe.
1he I|||ng Iee for flllng ln small clalms courL ln MassachuseLLs varles dependlng on how much Lhe cllenL
ls sulng for. 1he enLry fee ls enLry fee of $40 for clalms less Lhan or equal Lo $300, enLry fee of $30 for
clalms greaLer Lhan $300 buL less Lhan or equal Lo $2000, enLry fee of $100 for clalms greaLer Lhan
$2000 buL less Lhan or equal Lo $3000, enLry fee of $130 for clalms greaLer Lhan $3000. (*Surcharge
lncluded ln all flgures).
27

Iee Wa|vers are avallable for cllenLs who cannoL afford any legal fees ln Small Clalms (walvers can apply
Lo any fees LhaL mlghL be lncurred, lncludlng, buL noL llmlLed Lo, Lhe flllng fee).
28
Always make sure
cllenLs are aware of Lhe fee walver opLlon ln case Lhey quallfy. lf a cllenL Lhlnks LhaL he may be ellglble,
he should conLacL Lhe courLhouse.
Defendant's kesponse
Cnce a clalm has been flled, a courL daLe wlll be seL by Lhe clerk. 1he plalnLlff wlll recelve a copy of Lhe
"SLaLemenL of Clalm and noLlce of 1rlal" form back from Lhe clerk, lndlcaLlng Lhe daLe and Llme of Lhe
scheduled Lrlal. AnoLher copy of Lhls form wlll be lmmedlaLely malled Lo Lhe defendanL aL Lhe address
provlded on Lhe form by boLh cerLlfled mall and flrsL -class mall. As ln Lhe case of Lhe demand leLLer, Lhe

23
CompensaLlon ln Lhe amounL of Lhe falr markeL value appears ln many areas of law. See M.C.L. c.233,
208(e)(2), M.C.L. c. 106, l-201(37), M.C.L. c. 938, 3(1)(3)
26
8ule 2, unlform Small Clalms 8ules.
27
1he enLry fee requlred by M.C.L. c. 218, 22 and Lhe surcharge ($10) requlred by M.C.L. c. 262 4C
28
M.C.L. c. 261 27A - 27C
24

courL wlll presume Lhls documenL was recelved as long as Lhe flrsL0class mall ls noL reLurned Lo Lhe courL
undellvered.
29

Cnce Lhe defendanL recelves Lhls noLlce, he has flve opLlons
30
:
1. Sett|e - now LhaL Lhe defendanL knows LhaL hls opponenL "means buslness," he may wanL Lo
seLLle Lhe dlspuLe ouL of courL. lf an ouL-of-courL agreemenL ls reached prlor Lo Lhe courL daLe,
Lhe plalnLlff should geL Lhls agreemenL wrlLLen (and slgned by boLh parLles) and ca n Lhen granL
Lhe defendanL #(+","%+%$-", whlch means LhaL he wlll no longer be Laklng Lhe defendanL Lo
courL. 1he courL should be noLlfled, elLher ln person, or by mall, and Lhey wlll enLer Lhe
agreemenL as an order of Lhe courL.
31
lf Lhls ls done before Lhe scheduled Lrlal daLe, nelLher
parLy need appear.
2. Answer - lf Lhe defendanL belleves LhaL Lhe plalnLlff should noL wln Lhe [udgmenL, he may flle an
answer, ouLllnlng Lhe reasons why. lf posslble, Lhls wrlLLen answer should be flled wlLh Lhe courL
prlor Lo Lhe courL daLe. lf an answer ls noL flled, Lhe defendanL may sLlll come Lo courL on Lhe
scheduled daLe and defend hls slde. Powever, lf Lhe defendanL's fallure Lo submlL a wrlLLen
answer, or Lo send a copy of lL Lo Lhe plalnLlff ln a Llmely manner, has pre[udlced Lhe
presenLaLlon of Lhe plalnLlff's case, Lhe courL shall granL a conLlnuance aL Lhe plalnLlff's
requesL.
32

3. Counterc|a|m - lf Lhe defendanL noL only belleves LhaL he ls noL llable for Lhe plalnLlff's damages,
buL olso belleves LhaL Lhe plalnLlff ls llable for some of hls, Lhe defendanL may flle a
counLerclalm, argulng LhaL Lhe defendanL has a clalm agalnsL Lhe plalnLlff. 1he counLerclalm
most be molleJ to tbe plolotlff ot leost 10 Joys befote tbe ttlol Jote ln order for lL Lo be
consldered aL Lhe same Lrlal as Lhe orlglnal clalm for no addlLlonal flllng fee. 1he courL may also
permlL Lhe defendanL Lo brlng such a clalm ln wrlLlng aL any Llme. no wrlLLen answer for Lhe
defendanL's clalm ls requlred. lf Lhe defendanL's counLerclalm, or fallure Lo send Llmely noLlce Lo
Lhe plalnLlff, has pre[udlced Lhe presenLaLlon of Lhe plalnLlff's case, Lhe courL wlll granL a
conLlnuance aL Lhe plalnLlff's requesL.
33

4. 1h|rd arty C|a|m - Lhe defendanL may also flle a clalm agalnsL a Lhlrd parLy who may be llable Lo
hlm/her for all or parL of Lhe plalnLlff's clalm lf Lhe defendanL's cla lm (1) ls wlLhln Lhe [urlsdlcLlon
of small clalms courL and (2) Lhe noLlce ls malled Lo Lhe Lhlrd parLy aL leasL 10 days before Lhe
Lrlal daLe. 1he courL may also permlL Lhe defendanL Lo brlng such a clalm ln wrlLlng aL any Llme.
1here shall be no flllng fee or surcharge for such a clalm.
34
A defendanL who wlshes Lo flle a
Lhlrd-parLy clalm should conLacL Lhe small clalms courL clerk for more lnformaLlon.
3. kequest ostponement of the Case - Lhe defendanL may call or wrlLe Lo Lhe courL clerk and
requesL a posLponemenL of Lhe case lf: (1) lL ls lmposslble for hlm/her Lo show up ln Lhe person

29
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 3(a)
30
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 3(b-d)
31
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 7(a)
32
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 3(b)
33
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 3(c)
34
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 3(d)
23

on LhaL daLe, or (2) Lhe defendanL was lmproperly served wlLh courL papers by Lhe plalnLlff (l.e.
lf Lhe plalnLlff serves Lhe papers Loo soon before Lhe courL daLe).
6. Defau|t - lf Lhe defendanL does noL show up for Lhe scheduled courL hearlng, he auLomaLlcally
"defaulLs" and hence loses Lhe case. A [udgmenL wlll be handed down ln Lhe plalnLlff's favor, and
Lhe defendanL wlll be requlred Lo pay Lhe [udgmenL amounL.
33

8efore the Court Date
AfLer Lhe SLaLemenL of Clalm and noLlce of 1rlal ls flled and a courL daLe ls scheduled, elLher or boLh
parLles may flnd LhaL Lhe scheduled daLe, Llme and place of Lhe courL hearlng ls lnconvenlenL or
undeslrable. lf Lhls ls Lhe case, Lhe lnconvenlenced parLy has a few opLlons:
lf Lhe maLLer ls otqeot, Lhe parLy may flle a mot|on for a speedy tr|a|. lf Lhls moLlon ls granLed,
Lhe Lrlal wlll be scheduled for Lhe earllesL posslble daLe/Llme.
lf Lhe Jote ooJ/ot tlme of Lhe scheduled hearlng ls lmposslble or exLremely lnconvenlenL, Lhe
parLy may flle for a cont|nuance. lf granLed, Lhe daLe and Llme of Lhe hearlng wlll be rescheduled
for a laLer daLe.
lf Lhe locaLlon of Lhe hearlng ls lmposslble or exLremely lnconvenlenL, Lhe parLy may flle for a
change of venue. lf granLed Lhls wlll move Lhe locaLlon of Lhe Lrlal Lo anoLher dlsLrlcL courL.
lf Lhe parLy cannoL physlcally appear ln courL for some reason, Lhe clerk maglsLraLe may conslder
hearlng lLs slde Lhrough a non-lawyer represenLaLlve lf lL can convlnce Lhe courL LhaL lL needs
asslsLance, and LhaL Lhe person lL ls sendlng Lo courL ls famlllar wlLh whaL happened.
ln all of Lhese cases, Lhe clerk should be conLacLed for more speclflc lnsLrucLlons.
repar|ng for Sma|| C|a|ms Court
Crgan|zat|on ls perhaps Lhe mosL lmporLanL parL of a small clalms presenLaLlon. lf Lhe sLory belng Lold ls
hard Lo follow, Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe may noL see Lhe valldlLy of a parLy's clalm. CreaLlng an ouLllne ls one
way of maklng sure LhaL a sLory ls Lold loglcally, and may als o be an lncredlbly helpful "cheaL sheeL" on
Lrlal-day, when nerves may klck ln. A good order of presenLaLlon for a plalnLlff mlghL be:
1. 8rlef overvlew of Lhe case (e.g. "1he defendanL hlL my car afLer falllng Lo sLop aL a sLop slgn. My
car now requlres $1,300 worLh of repalrs).
2. WhaL happened ln chronologlcal order
3. WhaL sLeps have been Laken ln order Lo Lry Lo solve Lhe problem
4. WhaL Lhe law says ''brlefly''.
3. SuggesLed !udgmenL
resent|ng Lv|dence ls anoLher way of maklng a clalm more persuaslve Lo a clerk-maglsLraLe. lf a parLy
can presenL hard evldence Lo back up an asserLlon, Lhen Lhls asserLlon auLomaLlcally becomes more
bellevable. A word of cauLlon, Lhough: evlJeoce ls ooly os osefol os tbe woy lo wblcb lt ls pteseoteJ.

33
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule(c)
26

1hrowlng a plle of evldence aL a cl erk-maglsLraLe wlll be of llLLle help. 8uL lncorporaLlng evldence when
relevanL can be enormously helpful. Agaln, an ouLllne can help here. lf a plalnLlff/defendanL creaLes an
ouLllne of hls case, he can place, ln Lhe margln, llLLle noLes remlnd hlm Lo pul l ouL a recelpL or presenL a
phoLograph when Lhese pleces of evldence serve Lo pack up a polnL he ls maklng. lf appllcable, parLles
should brlng lLems such as
8ecelpLs
ConLracLs
WarranLy ollcles
Leases
hoLographs
uamaged lLems
lnspecLlon lorms
WrlLLen LsLlmaLes
Ca|||ng W|tnesses ls anoLher way of helplng Lo valldaLe sLaLemenLs made ln small clalms courL. AlLhough
wlLnesses are noL requlred ln small clalms courL (and, ln facL, are frowned upon lf Lhe clerk maglsLraLe
flnds Lhem Lo be frlvolous or unable Lo enhance undersLandlng of Lhe case), Lhey can be very helpful
when cases are of a "he sald, she sald" naLure. Choose wlLnesses carefully, however, lf Lhere ls any
chance LhaL a wlLness wll l hurL your case, errlng on Lhe slde of ''noL'' calllng Lhe wlLness ls advlsable.
lf a wlLness refuses Lo appear aL a small clalms Lrlal, Lhe courL can subpoena Lhe person. ln order Lo
subpoena someone, Lhe llLlganL musL go Lo Lhe sherlff's offlce and flll ouL a subpoena form, whlch wlll
Lhen be dellvered Lo Lhe wlLness's home by a sherlff, consLable, or oLher deLached parLy. 1here ls a
servlce fee for Lhe subpoena procedure, whlch ls deLermlned by Lhe counLy. Lvldence can also be
subpoenaed ln slmllar fashlon.
1he flnal plece of advlce ls slmple: ract|ce. racLlclng ls crlLlcal Lo success ln small clalms as lL allows you
Lo work ouL Lhe klnks ln your presenLaLlon and helps Lo deal wlLh nerves LhaL arlse durlng a Lrlal.
1he 8as|cs of Sma|| C|a|ms Court
8efore a small clalms courL parLlclpanL enLers Lhe courLroom on Lrlal -day, lL ls helpful for hlm/her Lo
know Lhe "baslcs" of how Lhe courL operaLes and how Lhe acLual hearlng wlll proceed. Pere are a few
key Lerms:
C|erk-Mag|strate - ln Lhe early 1980s, MassachuseLLs began employlng "clerk-maglsLraLes" Lo
preslde over small cl alms courL hearlngs lnsLead of [udges. Clerk-maglsLraLes acL ln Lhe same
capaclLy as [udges, however, clerk-maglsLraLes do noL necessarlly have Lhe same legal Lralnlng as
[udges. lL ls noL necessary Lo use legal Lerms wlLh clerk-maglsLraLes. 1he clerk-maglsLraLe should
be called Mr./Ms. Clerk and noL "?our Ponor." SomeLlmes [udges may hear small clalms maLLers
lf Lhe courL approves, buL only lf Lhe defendanL flrsL acknowledges ln wrlLlng LhaL he ls walvlng
27

hls rlghL Lo appeal for a subsequenL Lrlal by a [udge or before a [ury slnce he ls belng heard by a
[udge ln hls lnlLlal Lrlal.
36

|a|nt|ff - Lhe parLy who lnsLlLuLes Lhe clalm (l.e. Lhe parLy who Lhlnks lL has been wronged).
lalnLlffs may oot appeal ln small clalms courL.
37

Defendant - Lhe parLy belng sued (l.e. Lhe parLy allegedly responslble for wronglng Lhe plal nLlff).
uefendanLs coo appeal. 1he only excepLlon ls LhaL a defendanL who broughL a counLerclalm ln
Lhe orlglnal Lrlal cannoL appeal Lhe ''counLerclalm'' porLlon of a declslon, lf he loses. 1he
defendanL (who ls Lhe llLlganL for Lhe counLerclalm porLlon) ls consldered Lo have walved hls
rlghL Lo appeal ln Lhe same fashlon as Lhe plalnLlff.
Cnce a small clalms case ls "called Lo Lrlal" (l.e. Lhe parLles are Lold LhaL Lhelr Lrlal ls Lo begln), Lhe
hearlng wlll proceed as follows (keep ln mlnd LhaL Lhe enLlre process can Lake as llLLle as flve Lo Len
mlnuLes):
1. 8oLh parLles wlll be lnvlLed Lo cross "Lhe bar" (Lhe small fence separaLlng Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe
and Lhe plalnLlff/defendanL Lable from Lhe "publlc seaLlng" ln Lhe courLroom) and have a seaL aL
elLher slde of Lhe Lable. 1he Lable wlll face Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe, who wlll be seaLed aL an
elevaLed dals aL Lhe fronL of Lhe room.
2. 1he clerk-maglsLraLe wlll ask one slde Lo brlefly presenL hls slde of Lhe case. 1he plalnLlff usually
goes flrsL. As ln all levels of our legal sysLem, Lhe burden of proof ls on Lhe plalnLlff, whlch
means LhaL Lhe he musL convlnce Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe LhaL Lhe defendanL has caused hlm/her Lo
suffer moneLary damages and should be held llable for Lhem. 1he plalnLlff's evldence and/or
wlLnesses should be presenLed aL Lhls Llme. 1he plalnLlff wlll usually concludes hls presenLaLlon
by remlndlng Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe of Lhe amounL ln damages he ls seeklng (plus courL cosLs).
3. 1he clerk-maglsLraLe wlll ask Lhe oLher slde (usually Lhe defendanL) Lo presenL hls slde of Lhe
case. 1he defendanL's [ob ls merely Lo explaln elLher why he should noL be held llable for Lhe
plalnLlff's damages, and/or why Lhe plalnLlff's clalm ls noL leglLlmaLe (l .e. no law has been
broken/no rlghL has been vlolaLed). Agaln, Lhe defendanL's evldence and/or wlLnesses can be
presenLed aL Lhls Llme.
4. 1he clerk-maglsLraLe may Lhen ask Lhe plalnLlff lf he has anyLhlng furLher Lo add, now LhaL Lhe
defendanL has presenLed hls slde.
3. Lach parLy may Lhen be asked a serles of quesLlons by Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe (lf he feels as Lhough
furLher clarlflcaLlon ls necessary Lo compleLely undersLand Lhe case).
6. When all presenLaLlons/quesLlons have concluded, Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe may lmmedlaLely
render a declslon (rare) or may reserve dec|s|on, whlch means LhaL he wlll come Lo a declslon
laLer, and mall Lhls declslon Lo each parLy wlLhln 10 days of Lhe hearlng (more common).
7. 8oLh parLles wlll be Lhanked, and may exlL Lhe courLroom. 1he Lr lal ls over.
A few oLher Lhlngs Lo keep ln mlnd abouL courLroom demeanor:

36
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 7(h)
37
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 3:00
28

All parLles should dress tespectfolly. SulLs are unnecessary, buL looklng neaL and Lldy wlll
lndlcaLe Lo Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe LhaL Lhe parLy Lakes Lhe proceedlng serlously.
All sLaLemenLs should be oJJtesseJ to tbe cletk-moqlsttote. arLles should oot speak dlrecLly Lo
each oLher unless lnsLrucLed Lo do so by Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe.
lalnLlffs/defendanLs should oevet lnLerrupL elLher Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe or Lhe oLher parLy.
Speak only when lnsLrucLed Lo do so.
After the Iudgment
Cnce Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe has reached a declslon, boLh parLles wlll be senL Lhe Not|ce of Iudgment and
Crder as well as a Not|ce of ayment near|ng, vla flrsL class mall.
38
ln some cases, Lhe defendanL wlll be
deemed oot lloble for Lhe damages, and he wlll noL have Lo pay Lhe plalnLlff anyLhlng. ln oLhe r cases, Lhe
defendanL wlll be held llable for all/parL of Lhe damages susLalned by Lhe plalnLlff. lf so, Lhe defendanL ls
requlred by law Lo pay Lhe plalnLlff Lhe amounL of money lndlcaLed on Lhe malled [udgmenL form. ln
pracLlce, however, collecLlng Lhls money ls ofLen dlfflculL for plalnLlffs.
1he defendanL ls afforded several opLlons wlLhln Lhe LhlrLy-day perlod. llrsL, Lhe defendanL ln a case LhaL
wenL Lo Lrlal may clalm an appea| wlLhln Len days of recelpL of Lhe noLlce of !udgmenL, ln whlch case Lhe
paymenL hearlng would be canceled. Second, Lhe defendanL can slmply poy Lhe successful parLy and
saLlsfy Lhe [udgmenL. 1hlrd, Lhe defendanL can appear aL Lhe paymenL hearlng and Lhe burden would
Lhen fall upon hlm or her Lo show LhaL paymenL should noL be made ln full. 1o use Lhls opLlon, however,
Lhe defendanL would have Lo flll ouL a f|nanc|a| statement and provlde a copy Lo Lhe plalnLlff ln advance
of Lhe paymenL hearlng.
39

A Defau|t Iudgment occurs when Lhe defendanL ln a small clalms case does noL appear ln courL on Lhe
scheduled hearlng daLe. ln Lhese cases, Lhe plalnLlff auLomaLlcally wlns (and ls usually granLed Lhe full
amounL of money he requesLed on Lhe clal m form).
A D|sm|ssa| occurs when a plolotlff does noL show up on Lhe day of a hearlng. 1he case ls auLomaLlcally
dropped and Lhe defendanL may be leL off Lhe hook.
ke||ef from Iudgment may be requesLed by Lhe defendanL or Lhe plalnLlff wlLhln one year of Lhe daLe of
[udgmenL.
40
1hls ls oot an appeal and ls Lyplcally used when a defendanL wanLs Lo remove a defau|t
[udgmenL or when a p|a|nt|ff wants to vacate a d|sm|ssa| for fa||ure to appear for tr|a| . 1he parLy musL
flle a Mot|on for ke||ef from Iudgment form wlLh Lhe courL LhaL lssued Lhe [udgmenL. valld reasons for
flllng for rellef from [udgmenL lnclude mlsLakes by courLs (such as lf Lhe courL maglsLraLe overlooked or
mlslnLerpreLed a plece of evldence), a good excuse for noL showlng up, new found evldence LhaL may
change Lhe ouLcome of Lhe case, and/or Lhe plalnLlff used fraud or lmproperly served papers on Lhe
defendanL.
41
1he courL requlres a hearlng ln whlch Lhe parLy requesLlng rellef from [udgmenL aLLempLs

38
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 7(h)
39
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 7:04
40
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 8.
41
MassachuseLLs uomesLlc 8elaLlons rocedure 8ule 60: 8ellef from !udgmenL or Crder
29

Lo show cause for a new Lrlal, aL whlch Lhe oLher parLy oppose Lhe rellef from [udgmenL requesL. Whlle
Lhe courL may permlL a moLlon for rellef from [udgmenL Lo be flled, wheLher lL wlll be granLed ls
completely up Lo Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe's dlscreLlon. 1echnlcally, a "merlLorlous excuse" ls noL, ln and of
lLself, sufflclenL reason Lo requlre Lhe removal of a defaulL.
42
1he courL, ln vacaLlng an order of dlsmlssal
or a defaulL [udgmenL, may, ln approprlaLe clrcumsLances, award reasonable expenses such as losL
wages Lo Lhe oLher parLy lf Lhe parLy was presenL on Lhe day Lhe case was dlsmlssed or Lhe defendanL
defaulLed.
43
CeLLlng a rellef from [udgmenL does noL guaranLee a wln ln small clalms courL, buL does glve
Lhe defendanL or plalnLlff anoLher opporLunlLy Lo be heard.
An Appea| may be flled lf Lhe JefeoJoot ln a small clalms case belleves LhaL Lhe declslon made by Lhe
clerk-maglsLraLe ls lncorrecL due Lo an error ln facL or law. Powever lf a defendanL elecLed Lo have hls
case Lrled lnlLlally by a [udge, Lhere ls no poss|b|||ty of appea|. ln MassachuseLLs, Lhe defendanL, lf he
wlshes Lo appeal, musL flle an appeal w|th|n 10 days of rece|v|ng [udgment, afLer LhaL Llme, Lhe rlghL Lo
appeal ls gone. (Powever, Lhe courL may award an exLenslon lf he can prove LhaL he could noL make Lhe
deadllne because of excusable neglecL or some oLher good reason.
44
) 1o flle an appeal, a defendanL
musL pay a $23 fee (Lhls may be walved ln cases of lndlgence) Anu posL a bond, usually ln Lhe amounL of
$100, Lhough Lhere are some excepLlons. 1he appellanL (Lhe defendanL who ls appeallng) musL send hls
papers vla flrsL class mall Lo Lhe appellaLe courL clerk, who musL recelve Lhe paperwork wlLhln Lhe Len -
day deadllne.
43
Pe musL also flle an affldavlL, a noLarlzed sLaLemenL LhaL speclfles lssues of facL or law ln
Lhe case LhaL requlre a Lrlal by [udge or [ury of slx and LhaL sLaLes LhaL such Lrlal ls lnLended ln good falLh.
Coples of paperwork LhaL are noL requlred Lo be served by Lhe clerk musL be served on Lhe oLher parLy
by Lhe appellanL, elLher ln person or by flrsL class mall. An appellanL should conLacL Lhe courL aL whlch
Lhe case was declded for Lhe speclflc flllng procedures.
lalnLlffs cannoL appeal ln Small Clalms CourL.
46

47
uefendanLs should know LhaL lf Lhey falled Lo show up
ln small clalms courL, Lhey do noL have Lhe rlghL Lo appeal unless Lhey obLalned rellef from [udgmenL.
AppellanLs may or may noL choose Lo rely on Lhe asslsLance of a lawyer.
48
1hey should also keep ln mlnd
LhaL lf Lhey lose Lhelr appeals case, Lhe [udge or [ury may flnd Lhem responslble for paylng cosLs ( courL
cosLs or oLherwlse) for Lhe oLher parLy.
An Appea|s near|ng ls held before elLher a [ury of slx or a [udge (noL a clerk-maglsLraLe). Cnce Lhe
defendanL has appealed Lhe case, boLh parLles have Lhe rlghL Lo a [ury Lrlal, so Lhe case wlll be heard by
a [udge only lf boLh parLles walve Lhls rlghL (l.e. nelLher parLy requesLs a [ury Lrlal).
49

30
1he defendanL ls
enLlLled Lo a [ury Lrlal only for dlspuLed quesLlons of facL and should be prepared Lo lnform Lhe [ury
sesslon or [udge abouL whlch lssues of facL are dlspuLed by hlm and Lhe plalnLlff. 1he ulsLrlcL CourL [ury

42
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 7:06
43
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 8.
44
Mass. ulsLrlcL/Munlclpal CourLs AppellaLe ulvlslon Appeals 8ule 4(c)
43
MassachuseLLs AppellaLe rocedure 8ule 13
46
M.C.L. c. 218 23
47
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 8:00
48
8alph Warner, ''Lverybody's Culde Lo Small Clalms CourL.'' 12Lh ed, 2008.</
49
M.C.L. c. 218 23
30
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 8:00</
30

sesslons (Lo whlch appeals are dlrecLed) are not governed by Lhe lnformal and flexlble rules of small
clalms courL. lor Lhls reason, a cllenL lnvolved ln an appeal may wlsh Lo hlre an aLLorney.














31

Chapter 2
Co||ect|ons
collectloos ls Lhe process by whlch an lndlvldual who has been awarded damages ln Small Clalms CourL
acLually geLs Lhe monles LhaL are owed Lo Lhem.
Lega| rocess
AfLer a clerk-maglsLraLe has made a declslon abouL a case, Lhe person Lo whom money ls owed ls called
Lhe [udgment cred|tor whlle Lhe lndlvldual who owes money ls called Lhe [udgment debtor. lL ls
lmporLanL Lo noL confuse Lhese Lerms wlLh plalnLlff and defendanL, slnce a defendanL can counLer -sue
for money, wln hls case, and consequenLlally be Lhe [udgmenL credlLor. Whlle ln Lhe collecLlons process,
Lhe Lerms plalnLlff and defendanL are no longer used.
Not|ce of Iudgment and Crder Iorm
1he noLlce of !udgmenL and Crder lorm, whlch ls malled Lo boLh parLles once L he clerk- maglsLraLe
reaches a declslon, wlll lnclude Lhe followlng:
1. An lndlcaLlon of wheLher or noL Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe found Lhe defendanL llable for Lhe
plalnLlff's damages (l.e. dld Lhe plalnLlff wln?)
2. An exacL amounL of money LhaL Lhe defendanL musL pay Lo Lhe plalnLlff wlLhln 30 days of Lhe
daLe of [udgmenL, unless a prevlous paymenL plan has been worked ouL.
3. A courL daLe (ordlnarlly scheduled for approxlmaLely one monLh afLer Lhe daLe of [udgmenL) for
Lhe paymenL hearlng (explalned below). lf Lhe cl erk-maglsLraLe renders declslon lmmedlaLely on
Lhe Lrlal daLe, however, Lhe paymenL hearlng wlll commence on LhaL same daLe.
31
unless Lhe
plalnLlff walves Lhe hearlng or Lhe defendanL decldes Lo appeal Lhe declslon, boLh parLles are
expecLed Lo appear ln courL.
32

rlor Lo Lhe aymenL Pearlng, Lhe [udgmenL debLor (hereafLer called Lhe debLor") musL elLher pay Lhe
enLlre amounL of Lhe [udgmenL Lo Lhe [udgmenL credlLor C8 compleLe a wrlLLen flnanclal sLaLemenL.
1he I|nanc|a| Statement
1he llnanclal SLaLemenL form asks Lhe debLor Lo deLall hls lncome and asseLs as well as oLher perLlnenL
flnanclal lnformaLlon.
33
1he flnanclal sLaLemenL musL be compleLed prlor Lo Lhe scheduled paymenL
hearlng and a copy musL be provlded Lo Lhe credlLor before Lhls daLe, as well. Al Lhough Lhe flnanclal

31
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 7:03
32
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 7:04
33
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 7(g)
32

sLaLemenL wlll be kepL separaLe from oLher case paperwork (l.e. lL wlll noL be made parL of Lhe publlc
record), lL wlll be accesslble by Lhe courL, all parLles Lo Lhe case, and any aLLorneys LhaL have offlclally
become lnvolved ln Lhe case. 1he SLaLemenL musL be slgned as Lrue" by Lhe debLor. rovldlng
lnaccuraLe or false lnformaLlon wlll be punlshed by penalLy of per[ury.
34

AL a aymenL Pearlng held on Lhe orlglnal Lrlal daLe, Lhe presldlng offlclal wlll flrsL ask Lhe debLor lf he
wlshes Lo appeal Lhe declslon. lf Lhe debLor wlshes Lo appeal, Lhe paymenL hearlng wlll noL be
conducLed. CLherwlse, Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe wlll lssue a paymenL order for Lhe amounL of Lhe [udgmenL
plus allowable cosLs, and Lhls order wlll requlre paymenL by a deflnlLe daLe or on a deflnlLe schedule.
33

lf Lhe paymenL hearlng ls scheduled for afLer Lhe Lrlal daLe, Lhe clerk-maglsLraLe wlll have already lssued
a paymenL order along wlLh Lhe noLlce for !udgmenL. ln LhaL case, Lhe debLor had Lhree poLenLlal
responses:
36

1. Appeal Lhe declslon wlLhln Len days of recelpL of Lhe noLlce of !udgmenL. 1he paymenL hearlng
ls Lhen canceled.
2. ay Lhe plalnLlff Lhe enLlre amounL owed. 1he plalnLlff and defendanL musL LogeLher flll ouL a
courL-provlded form and flle lL wlLh Lhe courL lndlcaLlng LhaL Lhe defendanL has pald. 1he
paymenL hearlng ls Lhen canceled.
3. Appear aL Lhe paymenL hearlng. 1he defendanL wlll have Lo flle Lhe llnanclal SLaLemenL wlLh Lhe
courL and fulflll Lhe burden of explalnlng why he has noL yeL pald Lhe enLlre amounL owed.
Iudgment roof Status
!udgmenL debLors ofLen clalm LhaL Lhey are Loo lmpoverlshed Lo pay, buL usually Lhe courL offlclal
dlsagrees and makes Lhem pay someLhlng (even lf lL's only $3 or $10 a monLh). 1he [udge may devlse a
gradual paymenL plan for Lhe debLor. AlLhough a clerk-maglsLraLe or a [udge may preslde over a
paymenL hearlng, only [udges can acLually order lncarceraLlon, or anoLher measure deemed
approprlaLe, for non-paymenL or for fallure Lo appear aL Lhe hearlng (clvll conLempL). Clerk-maglsLraLes
cannoL
37
, and even [udges Lend Lo exerclse Lhls power qulLe lnfrequenLly.
lnablllLy Lo ay ls somewhaL common ln small clalms courL. AlLhough mosL debLors wlll be consldered
able Lo pay," on occaslon Lhe courL wlll flnd LhaL Lhe [udgmenL debLor acL ually ls Loo poor Lo pay hls
senLence. 1hese people are ofLen lnformally called [udgment proof. 8ecause [udgmenL proof sLaLus ls
ulLlmaLely Lhe [udge's declslon, lL ls ofLen hard Lo accuraLely predlcL who wlll quallfy. Pere are some
general guldellnes, Lhough:
1hose LhaL are exempL from paylng sLaLe Laxes would probably be deemed Loo poor Lo pay
ouLsLandlng [udgmenLs.
8ankrupL lndlvlduals are probably noL expecLed Lo pay lmmedlaLely.

34
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ules 7(g) and 9(c)
33
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 7:03.
36
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 7:04
37
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 9.
33

1hose who are on publlc asslsLance under Lhe:
! MassachuseLLs Ald Lo lamllles wlLh uependenL Chlldren (AluC)
! Ceneral 8ellef program
! eople who are fully bllnd / dlsabled
! veLeran's 8eneflLs program
! Soclal SecurlLy beneflLs & SupplemenLal SecurlLy lncome (SSl) beneflLs
! Welfare beneflLs (any beneflLs pald by MA ueparLmenL of 1ranslLl onal AsslsLance)
! 8allroad reLlremenL beneflLs
! lncome from mosL L8lSA-backed penslons
! Medlcald program
! lncome from unemploymenL lnsurance
38

! Worker's compensaLlon
39

eople who earn abouL $10,000 or less annually are aL Lhe poverLy level and mlghL be
consldered [udgmenL proof. 1he amounL of lncome requlred for poverLy level deslgnaLlon also
changes accordlng Lo oLher facLors, such as Lhe number of dependenLs a wage -earner has.
lf you have $1000 or more ln Lhe bank LhaL does noL fall lnLo Lhe aforemenLloned caLegorles
and/or you own properLy, you wlll noL be consldered [udgmenL proof.
1he [udgmenL proof sLaLus ls noL permanenL. Pow long a [udgmenL exLenslon wlll be ls for Lhe [udge Lo
declde (buL Lhe exLenslon ls usually abouL a year). ?ounger people are more llke ly Lo geL called back lnLo
courL Lhan older people, because Lhe assumpLlon ls LhaL younger people wlll have more of an
opporLunlLy Lo bounce back. AL Lhe end of Lhls Llme perlod, Lhe [udgmenL debLor ls called agaln Lo courL
elLher Lo explaln agaln why he has noL pald damages or Lo prove Lo Lhe [udge LhaL he sLlll cannoL pay.
1hese paymenL revlews and hearlngs wlll conLlnue unLll Lhe debLor pays damages or unLll Lhe courL
offlclal does noL Lhlnk LhaL he quallfles for [udgmenL proof sLaLus anymore.
60
1he [udgmenL credlLor can
only requesL Lhese revlews and hearlngs once a year for up Lo 20 years.
Non-Appear|ng Iudgment Debtors
non-Appearlng !udgmenL uebLors are also common when lL comes Lo paymenL hearlngs. lf a debLor falls
Lo show up on Lhe daLe deslgnaLed for Lhe paymenL hearlng, and Lhe credlLor does show up (and slgns a
sworn sLaLemenL LhaL paymenL by Lhe debLor has noL yeL been made), Lhen a caplas may be
lmmedlaLely lssued. A caplas ls a noLlce LhreaLenlng arresL lf Lhe debLor does noL appear ln courL. 1h e
cosL of a caplas ls usually $20-$30 and ls someLlmes added Lo Lhe [udgmenL amounL LhaL musL be pald
by Lhe debLor. 1he credlLor can also pay a consLable or sherlff Lo physlcally arresL and brlng Lhe debLor
lnLo courL Lo explaln why he has noL pald. 1he fee pald by Lhe credlLor for such an arresL ls $100-$300,
and may or may noL be added onLo Lhe [udgmenL amounL LhaL musL be pald by Lhe debLor.
61


38
M.C.L. c. 131a, 48
39
M.C.L. c. 132
60
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 7:04.
61
unlform Small Clalms 8ules, 8ule 7(g)
34

Lxtract|ng Money from Non-Cooperat|ve Debtors
CfLen none of Lhe above LhreaLenlng mechanlsms" wlll work, and Lhe plalnLlff (lf he sLlll wlshes Lo
collecL hls money) may have Lo Lake addlLlonal (someLlmes cosLly and lnconvenlenL) sLeps ln order Lo do
so. Some of hls opLlons are dlscussed below.
Cbta|n a Wr|t of Lxecut|on
CbLalnlng a WrlL of LxecuLlon l ls an aLLempL Lo levy some parL of Lhe debLor's properLy and ls lssued 13
buslness days afLer Lhe daLe of [udgmenL aL Lhe requesL of Lhe plalnLlff.
62
Some examples of properLy
LhaL can ordlnarlly be levled ln Lhls way are:
Money ln a bank accounL
ersonal roperLy
MoLor vehlcles owned by Lhe debLor
Money LhaL ls lnherlLed from frlends and relaLlves
8eLlremenL funds
lf a credlLor knows Lhe locaLlon of any of Lhese asseLs (or may be able Lo flnd ouL Lhelr locaLlon), Lhen
requesLlng a wrlL of execuLlon from Lhe courL ls ofL en very helpful. Cnce a wrlL of execuLlon (speclfylng
Lhe properLy Lo be levled) ls granLed:
63

1. 1he credlLor musL brlng Lhls wrlL Lo a consLable, sherlff or oLher levylng offlcer."
2. 1he credlLor musL also glve Lhe consLable/sherlff lnformaLlon on Lhe locaLlon of Lhe asseLs Lo be
levled.
3. 1he consLable/sherlff musL Lhen serve, ln person, Lhe wrlL of execuLlon Lo Lhe debLor and collecL
Lhe properLy speclfled ln Lhe wrlL. 1hls properLy wlll be kepL ln Lhe sherlff/consLable's
safekeeplng for a perlod of Llme.
4. lf Lhe debLor does noL flle a clalm of exempLlon" (whlch he ls enLlLled Lo do), Lhen Lhe sherlff
wlll elLher Lurn Lhe money dlrecLly over Lo Lhe credlLor (ln Lhe case of cash asseLs) or sell Lhe
asseLs (l.e. a car) and reLurn Lhe proceeds Lo Lhe credlLor.
1he llnanclal SLaLemenL LhaL debLors are requlred Lo flll ouL prlor Lo Lhe paymenL hearlng has a space ln
whlch Lhe name of Lhe debLor's bank (and hls accounL number Lhere) ls requesLed.
64
CredlLors should
make noLe of Lhls lnformaLlon, and verlfy LhaL lL ls correcL, as knowlng Lhls lnformaLlon may make Lhe
above procedure posslble.
63



62
SLandards of !udlclal racLlce 9:03.
63
now uo l xecote ooJ levy Aqolost ltopetty OwoeJ 8y o IoJqmeot uebtot, Law.lreeadvlce.com
64
llnanclal SLaLemenL, MassachuseLLs Small Clalms lorms.
63
collect oot coott IoJqmeot ltom ueposlt Accooots, nolo.com Law Lncyclopedla
33

Cbta|n a Wage Garn|shment
CbLalnlng a Wage CarnlshmenL allows a credlLor Lo collecL hls [udgmenL by Laklng Lhe owed money
dlrecLly ouL of Lhe debLor's wages. ln order Lo garnlsh someone's wages", a credlLor musL:
66

1. CbLaln a WrlL of LxecuLlon (as explalned above).
2. CbLaln an AppllcaLlon and Crder for Wage CarnlshmenL (ask Clerk for deLalls), whlch ls dlrecLed
Lo Lhe debLor's employer and orders Lhls lndlvldual/company Lo wlLhhold a porLlon of Lhe
debLor's wages (usually no more Lhan 23) and pay Lhls amounL Lo Lhe credlLor.
3. Pave Lhe Crder for Wage CarnlshmenL served" upon Lhe debLor's employer by a
sherlff/consLable.
Agaln, Lhe credlLor musL know Lhe name and locaLlon of Lhe debLor's employer. 1hls lnformaLlon can be
found on Lhe llnanclal SLaLemenL flled by Lhe debLor before Lhe paymenL hearlng.
ut a L|en on a roperty
uLLlng a llen on Lhe debLor's properLy enLlLles a credlLor Lo auLomaLlcally collecL Lhe amounL of hls
[udgmenL from Lhe proceeds LhaL resulL when LhaL plece of properLy ls sold. ln order Lo creaLe a llen on
Lhe debLor's properLy, Lhe credlLor musL record Lhe [udgmenL wlLh Lhe land records offlce ln Lhe counLy
ln whlch Lhe properLy ls locaLed. When Lhe debLor sells or reflnances Lhe properLy, Lhe buyer wlll see Lhe
llen, and Lhe credlLor wlll be pald ouL of Lhe proceeds. (*noLe: lL ls posslble Lo execuLe on Lhe llen,"
forclng Lhe sale of Lhe properLy lmmedlaLely. Powever, Lhls ls expenslve and usually requlres Lhe
asslsLance of a lawyer. lor Lhese reasons a llen ls rarely used).







66
CollecL ?our CourL !udgmenL WlLh a Wage CarnlshmenL, nolo.com Law Lncyclopedla.
36

Chapter 3
Land|ord]1enant Law
Landlord/1enanL law deals wlLh lssues of real esLaLe leaslng. 1here are many very speclflc laws LhaL musL
be followed, by boLh LenanLs and landlords, when dwelllngs are renLed ln Lhls manner. 1he followlng
chapLer wlll deLall Lhe laws LhaL are relevanL Lo landlord/LenanL lnLeracLlons.
8as|cs of Land|ord]1enant
Look|ng for & Choos|ng an Apartment
A I|nder's Iee (llnder's fee, reglsLraLlon fee or commlsslon for helplng a LenanL Lo flnd an aparLmenL
may only be charged by a llcensed real esLaLe broker or salesperson
67
, and only afLer Lhe broker or agenL
has slgned a conLracL LhaL sLaLes Lhe fee amounL and Lhe LenanL's requlremenLs for an aparLmenL. 1he
conLracL musL also sLaLe LhaL Lhe broker or agenL wlll provlde a cerLaln number of llsLlngs, whlch may
noL be less Lhan flve
68
.
1enant D|scr|m|nat|on. leJetol low prohlblLs a landlord from refuslng Lo renL any aparLmenL Lo a
poLenLlal LenanL because of race or color
69
. 5tote low prohlblLs a landlord from refuslng Lo renL an
aparLmenL Lo a poLenLlal LenanL because of dependence upon publlc or renLal asslsLance
70
. LxcepL ln
owner-occupled Lwo-famlly dwelllngs, Lhe MassachuseLLs lalr Pouslng Law prohlblLs dlscrlmlnaLlon on
Lhe grounds of rellglon, naLlonal orlgln, age, ancesLry, mlllLary background or servlce, gender, sexual
orlenLaLlon, marlLal sLaLus, bllndness, deafness, or Lhe need of a gulde dog
71
. WlLh some excepLlons, no
landlord can refuse Lo renL an aparLmenL because L he LenanL has chlldren
72
.ln parLlcular, a landlord
cannoL slmply refuse Lo renL Lo a LenanL wlLh chlldren ln order Lo comply wlLh Lhe prohlblLlon agalnsL
exposlng chlldren Lo lead
73
.
1ypes of 1enancy
A 1enant w|th a Lease ls a LenanL who has slgned a wrlLLen agreemenL wlLh a landlord Lo renL a dwelllng
for a parLlcular amounL of Llme, usually one year. uurlng Lhe year, Lhe landlord cannoL ralse monLhly
renL, and Lhe landlord wlll noL be able Lo end Lenancy unless Lhe LenanL falls Lo malnLaln Lhe Lerms of
Lhe lease.

67
M.C.L. c. 112, 8788
68
Ooestloos of tbe week. 1eooot's klqbts, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce webslLe
69
32 uSC 1982
70
M.C.L. c. 1318, 4(10)
71
M.C.L. c. 1318, 4(38)
72
M.C.L. c. 1318, 4(11).
73
M.C.L. c. 111, 199A
37

A 1enant-at-W||| ls a LenanL who has noL slgned a lease, buL who pays renL perlodlcally (usually
monLhly). AlLhough Lhere ls noL always a wrlLLen agreemenL ln a Lenancy-aL-wlll, ofLen Lhe LenanL ls
asked Lo slgn a "8enLal AgreemenL" or "1enancy-aL-Wlll" form. Such a form should lnclude Lhe amounL
of monLhly renL aL Lhe Llme of Lhe agreemenL and any addlLlonal baslc rules for Lenancy
74
.
A LenanL-aL-wlll may end hls Lenancy for any reason as long as he glves hls landlord noLlce LhaL he ls
plannlng Lo leave, elLher LhlrLy days or one monLh before Lhe nexL renL paymenL due daLe, whlchever ls
longer. Llkewlse, a landlord may end Lhe Lenancy for any reason as long he glves hls LenanL noLlce LhaL
Lhe LenanL musL leave elLher LhlrLy days or one monLh before Lhe nexL renL paymenL due daLe,
whlchever ls longer
73
.
1he landlord can ralse Lhe renL of a LenanL-aL-wlll as long as he lnforms Lhe LenanL of Lhe renL lncrease,
elLher LhlrLy days or one monLh before lL Lakes effecL, whlchever ls longer. lf, however, Lhe LenanL
recelves a renL subsldy from Lhe governmenL, Lhe landlord may noL ralse renL wlLhouL governmenLal
approval.
76

A koom|ng or 8oard|ng nouse 1enant becomes a LenanL-aL-wlll afLer Lhree monLhs of Lenancy and ls
Lhen afforded Lhe rlghLs of a LenanL aL wlll.
1ermlnaLlon noLlces vary dependlng on Lhe lengLh of Lenancy:
*Less Lhan 30 days - no noLlce requlred.
*8eLween 30 and 90 days - 7 days of noLlce requlred.
*Cver 90 days - 30 days of noLlce requlred
Powever, Lhe landlord ls only requlred Lo glve 7 days of noLlce lf LenanL ls dlsorderly or boLhersome Lo
oLher LenanLs C8 lf LenanL pays renL weekly
77
.
1he Lease or kenta| Agreement
1he Lease or kenta| Agreement should lnclude Lhe name, address, and phone number of Lhe owner and
Lhe person responslble for Lhe aparLmenL's malnLenance and repalr, and Lhe name, address, and phone
number of Lhe person Lo whom Lhe LenanL can glve coples of formal noLlces, complalnLs, or courL
papers. lf Lhe LenanL pays a securlLy deposlL, Lhe lease or renLal agreemenL musL show Lhe amou nL pald,
and musL explaln Lhe rlghLs regardlng securlLy deposlLs
78
.

74
1be Attotoey Ceoetol's ColJe to 1eooots' klqbts, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce webslLe
73
1be Attotoey Ceoetol's ColJe to 1eooots' klqbts, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce webslLe
76
1be Attotoey Ceoetol's ColJe to 1eooots' klqbts, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce webslLe
77
1be 1eooot's commooJmeots, MassachuseLLs LxecuLlve Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs
78
940 CM8 3.17(3b)
38

1he lease or renLal agreemenL cannoL requlre Lhe LenanL Lo glve up any legal rlghLs ln reLurn for renLlng
Lhe aparLmenL. ln parLlcular, Lhe Lerms of Lhe lease or renLal agreemenL cannoL pre venL Lhe LenanL from
sulng Lhe landlord, reporLlng vlolaLlons of Lhe SanlLary Code, or [olnlng a LenanLs' unlon
79
.
A Copy of the Lease or kenta| Agreement musL be provlded Lo Lhe LenanL by Lhe landlord wlLhln ''30
days'' of slgnlng. A landlord who does noL provlde Lhe lease wlLhln 30 days may be flned up Lo $300
80
.
1ypes of Leases
*llxed-Lerm lease: 1yplcally runs for one year. May or may noL be renewed afLer Lhe perlod explres.
*Self-exLendlng lease: AuLomaLlcally renews lf nelLher Lhe landlord nor LenanL glves formal noLlce LhaL
Lhere wlll be no renewal by a daLe speclfled ln Lhe lease.
repayments are ofLen requlred by landlords before a LenanL moves ln. 1he followlng rules regulaLe
repaymenLs LhaL a landlord can charge on resldenLlal properLy LhaL ls belng leased for more Lhan 100
days. noLe LhaL Lhls law does noL apply Lo properLy LhaL ls used for commerclal reasons
81
.
1he only prepaymenLs LhaL a landlord may lawfully charge are
82

1. I|rst Month's kent
2. Last Month's kent - Lo proLecL Lhe landlord from a LenanL resldlng ln Lhe aparLmenL for hls lasL
monLh and Lhen "Laklng off" wlLhouL paylng renL. 1hls covers Lhe lasL monLh's renL paymenL, and need
noL be pald agaln aL Lhe end of Lenancy.
3. Secur|ty Depos|t - a deposlL Lo a landlord no greaLer Lhan one monLh's renL, lnLended Lo ensure LhaL
condlLlons of Lhe lease wlll be meL and LhaL Lhe cosL of damage Lo Lhe aparLmenL wlll be covered.
4. Insta||at|on Costs for Lock & key
1he Last Month's kent
83

*LasL monLh's renL ls a prepaymenL for Lhe lasL monLh of Lenancy. A securlLy deposlL cannoL be used as
Lhe lasL monLh's renL and vlce versa.
*1he amounL of Lhe lasL monLh's renL cannoL be greaLer Lhan one monLh's renL. lf a landlord laLer ralses
Lhe renL, he can requlre hls LenanL Lo lncrease Lhe amounL of Lhe lasL monLh's renL Lo equal Lhe new
renL.

79
M.C.L. c. 186, 18.
80
940 CM8 3.17(3c).
81
lor more lnformaLlon on Lhe dlsLlncLlon beLween commerclal and resldenLlal properLy, see Shwachman v.
khoroshansky (13 Mass. App CL.)
82
M.C.L. c. 186, 138
83
M.C.L. c. 186, 138
39

*A landlord ls requlred Lo deposlL Lhe lasL monLh's renL ln a MassachuseLLs bank and musL glve hls
LenanL a recelpL for Lhe deposlL wlLhln 30 days.
*A LenanL ls enLlLled Lo ''aL mosL ./ 0$&"+")& (and ot leost Lhe amounL of lnLeresL glven by Lhe bank) on
Lhe lasL monLh's renL, payable aL each year on Lhe annlversary daLe of Lenancy. 1hls lnLeresL ls Lo accrue
and be pald even lf Lhe Lenancy lasLs less Lhan one year, and musL be pald wlLhln 30 days of Lhe
LermlnaLlon of Lenancy.
*A landlord musL Lransfer Lhe lasL monLh's renL wlLh any lnLeresL accrued Lo Lhe new landlord lf
ownershlp of Lhe dwelllng changes hands. 1hls musL be done wlLhln 43 days of ownershlp Lransfer.
*lf a landlord falls Lo pay lnLeresL on lasL monLh's renL wlLhln 30 days afLer LermlnaLlon of Lenancy or
falls Lo Lransfer Lhe lasL monLh's renL wlLh lnLeresL accrued Lo Lhe new landlord wlLhln 43 days of L he
daLe of ownershlp Lransfer, tbe teooot ls eotltleJ to 1k8l (ttlple) uAMAC5 plos coott costs ooJ
teosoooble ottotoey's fees.
Secur|ty Depos|t
84

*1he amounL of Lhe securlLy deposlL cannoL be greaLer Lhan one monLh's renL. lf Lhe landlord laLer ralses
Lhe renL, he can requlre Lhe LenanL Lo lncrease Lhe amounL of Lhe securlLy deposlL Lo equal Lhe new renL.
*A landlord musL glve hls LenanL a statement of cond|t|on (lncludlng any cerLlfled vlolaLlon of Lhe
SanlLary Code) of Lhe premlses upon recelvlng a securlLy deposlL or wlLhln 10 days of Lenancy, whlchever
comes laLer. Cnce Lhe LenanL recelves a s LaLemenL of condlLlon, he has 13 days Lo reLurn a correcLed
copy Lo Lhe landlord, afLer whlch Llme Lhe landlord has 13 days Lo elLher slgn Lhe agreemenL or sLaLe
dlsagreemenL. lf Lhe LenanL does noL submlL a separaLe or correcL llsL, a courL may laLer vlew Lhls lack of
acLlon as Lhe LenanL's agreemenL LhaL Lhe llsL was compleLe and correcL.
*A landlord ls requlred Lo deposlL Lhe securlLy deposlL ln a MassachuseLLs 8ank and musL glve hls LenanL
a recelpL for Lhe deposlL wlLhln 30 days.
*A LenanL ls enLlLled Lo aL mosL ./ 0$&"+")& (and ot leost Lhe amounL of lnLeresL glven by Lhe bank) on
Lhe securlLy deposlL, payable aL each year on Lhe annlversary daLe of Lenancy. lf Lenancy ends before
one year, no lnLeresL ls collecLed on Lhe securlLy deposlL. 1he landlord musL reLurn Lhe securlLy deposlL
and accrued lnLeresL, less lawful deducLlons, wlLhln 30 days afLer LermlnaLlon of Lenancy.
*A landlord may lawfully deducL from Lhe securlLy deposlL for renL unlawfully wlLhheld and for damages
caused by Lhe LenanL or any of Lhe LenanL's guesLs or damages on Lhe premlse wlLh Lhe LenanL's consenL
(8easonable wear and Lear aLLrlbuLed Lo normal use Joes oot counL).
*1o deducL from Lhe securlLy deposlL for damages, a landlord musL provlde a deta||ed ||st of damages
and est|mates]b|||s for repa|r costs wlLhln 30 days afLer LermlnaLlon of Lenancy.

84
M.C.L. c. 186, 138
40

*A landlord musL Lransfer Lhe securlLy deposlL wlLh any lnLeresL accrued Lo a new landlord lf ownershlp
of Lhe dwelllng changes hands. 1hls musL be done wlLhln 43 days of ownershlp Lrans fer.
*lf Lhe landlord:
*uses a lease whlch aLLempLs Lo lnfluence Lhe LenanL Lo walve hls securlLy deposlL rlghLs,
*lalls Lo deposlL Lhe securlLy deposlL ln a MassachuseLLs bank and provlde a recelpL from LhaL
bank wlLhln 30 days
*lalls Lo make securlLy deposlL records avallable
*lalls Lo provlde a llsL of damages wlLhln 30 days of LermlnaLlon lf deducLlons are Lo be made
*lalls Lo reLurn Lhe securlLy deposlL (or balance afLer lawful deducLlons) wlLh accrued lnLeresL
wlLhln 30 days of LermlnaLlon
*lalls Lo Lransfer Lhe securlLy deposlL Lo Lhe new landlord wlLhln 43 days of Lhe daLe of
ownershlp Lransfer,
12" &"$%$& 0) "$&0&3"! &( &+043" !%'%5")6 437) -(7+& -()&) %$! +"%)($%,3" %&&(+$"89) #""):
1he above rules do noL apply Lo a commerclal lease. 1he MA governmenL assumes LhaL buslnesses are
beLLer proLecLed Lhan your average clLlzen. lf you are renLlng space for buslness purposes, you are noL
enLlLled Lo Lreble damages for Lhe above.
nous|ng Court
8S

nous|ng Court deals wlLh all legal maLLers relaLed Lo hablLaLlon, lncludlng landlord/LenanL problems. lL ls
noL bound by Lhe $7,000 cap LhaL applles Lo small clalms cases. 1he houslng courL wlll apply Lhe same
laws and procedures as Small Clalms.
Pouslng courL has concurrenL [urlsdlcLlon wlLh Small Clalms CourL. 1hls means LhaL a sulL relaLed Lo
houslng and falllng under Lhe $7,000 llmlL can be flled ln elLher Pouslng or Small Clalms CourL. Small
clalms declslons can be appealed ln Pouslng CourL, wlLhln resLrlcLlons pursuanL Lo Lhe laws of appeals.

Dur|ng 1enancy
Cnce a LenanL moves ln Lhere are sLlll cerLaln laws LhaL musL be followed by boLh parLles.


83
M.C.L. c. 183c 3
41

Late ayment Iees cannoL be charged by a landlord unLll 30 days afLer Lhe due daLe. 1hese lnclude laLe
charges, lnLeresL, and oLher penalLles.
86
Powever, a landlord can begln Lhe evlcLlon process on Lhe flrsL
day Lhe paymenL ls laLe.
87

Ut|||t|es
1he landlord may requlre LenanLs Lo pay Lhelr own elecLrlclLy and gas bllls, buL Lhls requlremenL should
be wrlLLen lnLo Lhe lease or renLal agreemenL.
88
A landlord cannoL cause Lhe removal of or shuL off
uLlllLles excepL for emergency repalrs. lf a uLlllLy company musL shoL off a LenanL's uLlllLles because of a
landlord's lnablllLy Lo pay, Lhe company musL noLlfy Lhe LenanL aL leasL 30 days prlor Lo shuL off.
89
1he
1enanL may be asked Lo pay parL or Lhe enLlre overdue blll Lo Lhe uLlllLy and Lo deducL LhaL paymenL
from hls renL
90
. 1enanLs seeklng Lo have Lhelr uLlllLles Lurned back on should call Lhe ueparLmenL of
1elecommunlcaLlons and Lnergy aL 1-800-392-6066.
1he Land|ord's k|ght of Lntry C|ause
91
allows a landlord Lo enLer a LenanL's aparLmenL only for Lhe
followlng reasons:
*1o lnspecL Lhe premlses.
*1o make repalrs.
*1o show Lhe aparLmenL Lo a prospecLlve LenanL, purchaser, or morLgagee.
*ln accordance wlLh a courL order.
*lf Lhe premlses appear abandoned.
*1o deLermlne Lhe amounL of damage Lo Lhe properLy for deducLlons from Lhe securlLy deposlL afLer
noLlce Lo LermlnaLe has been glven.
lf a landlord conLlnually enLers a LenanL's premlse unreasonably, Lhe LenanL may flle for a Lemporary
resLralnlng order.
92

nab|tab|||ty k|ghts
93
are guaranLeed Lo LenanLs by Lhe SLaLe SanlLary Code. 1hls code mandaLes LhaL Lhe
followlng hablLablllLy rlghL" be ensured by a landlord:
94


86
940 CM8 3.17(6a)
87
M.C.L. c. 186, 17A(2)
88
utllltles, Legal AsslsLance CorporaLlon of CenLral MassachuseLLs WebslLe.
89
M.C.L. c. 164, 124u
90
M.C.L. c. 164, 124u
91
M.C.L. c. 186, 138(1a)
92
A. Iosepb koss, now to 8e o looJlotJ lo Mossocbosetts ooJ AvolJ leqol 1tooble. !anuary 2002
93
103 CM8 410
94
lor cases LhaL exceed Lhe small clalms llmlL, under MCL 186, SecLlon 14, a LenanL ln any dwelllng (excepL for a
hoLel) has speclal rlghLs where Lhe owners ls requlred "by law or by Lhe express or lmplled Lerms of any conLracL or
lease or Lenancy" Lo furnlsh waLer, hoL waLer, heaL, llghL, power, gas, elevaLor servlce, Lelephone servlce, [anlLor
42

1. PeaL
2. 8emoval of cockroaches and/or rodenLs
3. luncLlonlng klLchens
4. luncLlonlng 8aLhrooms
3. PoL WaLer
6. SLrucLural lnLegrlLy
7. Snow 8emoval (Cne musL be able Lo enLer and exlL Lhelr home safely)
8. no Lead alnL (lf Lhere are chlldren under Lhe age of 6 llvlng ln Lhe dwelllng.
93

lor more speclflc requlremenLs, see Lhe Code of Massachus eLLs 8egulaLlons, 103 CM8 410.
Dea||ng w|th nab|tab|||ty k|ghts V|o|at|ons
96
: lf a LenanL suspecLs LhaL any of hls hablLablllLy rlghLs have
been vlolaLed, Lhe LenanL should Lake Lhe followlng sLeps:
1. Lxplaln Lhe problems Lo Lhe landlord and requesL repalr
2. Pave an lnspecLlon by Lhe local healLh deparLmenL and be prepared wlLh a llsL of suspecLed
vlolaLlons. Moke sote tbe lospectot wtltes Jowo oll vlolotloos.
3. lf Lhe lnspecLor flnds any vlolaLlons and Lhe landlord refuses Lo repalr any damages, Lhe LenanL
may lawfully w|thho|d part of the rent or repa|r the damages h|mse|f and JeJoct tbe costs from
fuLure renLal paymenLs.
A LenanL may noL wlLhhold renL lf he was Lhe cause of Lhe problems, or lf he was noL currenL ln hls renL
paymenLs aL Lhe Llme of Lhe problem. 1he LenanL ls sLlll requlred Lo pay Lhe falr renL for Lhe aparLmenL
glven lLs defecLlve condlLlon, so he may only be able Lo wlLhhold a parL of Lhe renL, dependlng on Lhe
serlousness of Lhe problem.
97
AlLhough noL requlred by law, Lhe LenanL ls encouraged Lo deposlL Lhe
wlLhheld renL ln an escrow accounL Lo show good falLh. Any money LhaL ls wlLhheld musL be pald lf Lhe
landlord flxes Lhe hablLablllLy vlolaLlons.
A LenanL may repa|r the damages h|mse|f and deduct the costs
98
from fuLure paymenLs only lf:
*1he LoLal deducLlons do noL exceed four monLhs' renL.
*1he local 8oard of PealLh or oLher code enforcemenL agency has cerLlfled LhaL Lhe presenL condlLlons
endanger Lhe healLh or safeLy of LenanLs.
*1he landlord recelves wrlLLen noLlce of Lhe exlsLlng vlolaLlons from Lhe lnspecLlng agency.
*1he landlord ls glven 3 days from Lhe daLe of noLlce Lo begln repalrs or Lo conLracL for ouLslde servlces
and 14 days Lo subsLanLlally compleLe all necessary repalrs.

servlce or refrlgeraLlon has speclal rlghLs. Landlords LhaL vlolaLe Lhese rlghLs can be flned for up Lo 3 monLhs of
renL or puL lnLo prlson for up Lo 6 monLhs .
93
M.C.L. c. 111, 197
96
M.C.L. c. 239, 8A
97
M.C.L. c. 239, 8A
98
M.C.L. c. 111, 127L
43

Cther nous|ng kegu|at|ons
Massachusetts State |umb|ng Code: 248 CM8 2.00
Massachusetts State Iue| Gas Code: 248 CM8 4.00-8.00
Massachusetts State L|ectr|ca| Code: 327 CM8 12.00
Massachusetts State 8u||d|ng Code: 780 CM8 1.00-22.00
kegu|at|on for Lead o|son|ng revent|on and Contro|: 103 CM8 460.00
rogram for A|r 1est|ng and kemed|a| Measures for kes|dent|a| Dwe|||ngs Insu|ated w|th Urea
Iorma|dehyde Ioam Insu|at|on (UIII) 103 CM8 631.00
kegu|at|ons for kemova| Conta|nment or Lncapsu|at|on of Asbestos:
433 CM8 6.00 and 310 CM8 7.00
Spec|a| L|v|ng Arrangements
When deallng wlLh Landlord/1enanL dlspuLes, lL ls lmporLanL Lo remember LhaL Lhere are unlque llvlng
slLuaLlons LhaL have addlLlonal laws LhaL may or may noL apply Lo dlfferenL slLuaLlons.
nous|ng Law Sect|on 8
Sect|on 8 provldes federal governmenL asslsLance for very low-lncome famllles, Lhe elderly, and Lhe
dlsabled Lo afford decenL houslng. lL ls Lhe parLlclpanL's responslblllLy Lo flnd houslng lncludlng slngle -
famlly homes, Lownhouses, and aparLmenLs. Local publlc houslng agencles (PAs) use u.S. uepar LmenL
of Pouslng and urban uevelopmenL (Puu funds Lo make dlrecL paymenL Lo landlords. 1he person on
secLlon 8 subsldy pays Lhe dlfference beLween Lhe acLual renL charged by Lhe landlord and Lhe amounL
subsldlzed by Lhe program).
L||g|b|||ty for SecLlon 8 asslsLance ls deLermlned by gross lncome and famlly slze and ls llmlLed Lo u.S.
clLlzens or non-clLlzens wlLh speclflc lmmlgraLlon sLaLus. Cnce ellglblllLy ls deLermlned, Lhe parLlclpanL ls
placed on a walLlng llsL. AsslsLance ls avallable for:
*Wheelchalr accesslble houslng (open Lo anyone requlrlng wheelchalr accesslblllLy)
*lamlly publlc houslng (open Lo anyone)
*Llderly/dlsabled publlc houslng (open Lo Lhose age 60 or over and/or dlsabled)
*CrandparenLs houslng program (open Lo Lhose age 60 and over and/or dlsabled wlLh legal cusLody of 1
or 2 grandchlldren of Lhe same gender)
44

MassachuseLLs Ceneral Law makes lL unlawful for landlords Lo dlscrlmlnaLe agalnsL an lndlvldual who ls
Lhe reclplenL of low-lncome houslng.
99

koommates & Sub|ett|ng
ln many cases, LenanLs wlll share an aparLmenL wlLh anoLher person. Whlle hls may help wlLh lonellness
and affordablllLy, lL also opens Lhe door Lo a hosL of problems. lL ls lmporLanL for a LenanL Lo undersLand
Lhe legal relaLlonshlp LhaL exlsLs beLween hlm and hls roommaLe, and musL know whaL Lo do when one
of Lhem does noL hold up hls end of Lhe bargaln.
1here are Lwo posslble legal relaLlonshlps LhaL can exlsL beLween roommaLes who share a renLed/leased
aparLmenL:
Co-tenants: 8oLh roommaLes have Lhelr names/slgnaLures on Lhe lease lssued by Lhe landlord, and Lhe
landlord has accepLed Lhe presence of boLh ln hls dwelllng. ln Lhls case, [o|nt and severa| ||ab|||ty exlsLs,
whlch means LhaL Lhe Lwo LenanLs are consldered Lo be "one unlL" by Lhe landlord. ln cases of "[olnL a nd
several llablllLy," Lhe landlord can look Lo eltbet LenanL for resoluLlon, should a problem arlse. lor
example, lf one co-LenanL falls Lo pay renL on monLh, Lhe landlord can hold Lhe otbet roommaLe
responslble for Lhe dellnquenL LenanL's porLlon. And lf one roommaLe breaks a condlLlon of Lhe lease or
renLal agreemenL, Lhe landlord may evlcL both LenanLs for Lhe lnfracLlon. A co-LenanL may noL evlcL
anoLher co-LenanL - Lhls rlghL ls only granLed Lo Lhe landlord. lor Lhese reasons, lL ls cruclal LhaL Lhose
enLerlng lnLo a lease as co-LenanLs LrusL each oLher greaLly.
1enant]Sub|etter: ln Lhls slLuaLlon, Lhe orlglnal LenanL ls Lhe only lndlvldual who's name/slgnaL ure ls on
Lhe landlord's lease. 1he subleLLer has no dlrecL relaLlonshlp Lo Lhe orlglnal landlor d, buL lnsLead has
slgned a conLracL wlLh Lhe orlglnal LenanL Lo follow cerLaln guldellnes and pay a deslgnaLed amounL
Lowards renL, uLlllLles, eLc. 1hls means LhaL Lhe orlglnal LenanL has a degree of conLrol over hls
"roommaLe," (Lhe subleLLer) and, shoul d problems arlse, has Lhe power Lo evlcL Lhe roommaLe hlmself.
1he prlmary drawback of Lhls oLherwlse-superlor opLlon ls LhaL many landlords do noL allow LenanLs Lo
accepL subleLLers (as lL prevenLs Lhe landlord from holdlng boLh responslble for laLe renL, eLc.) lf Lhls ls
Lhe case a LenanL who Lakes ln a subleLLer ls ln vlolaLlon of hls conLracL and may be evlcLed.
100

Cther: lf nelLher of Lhese legal relaLlonshlps exlsLs beLween Lwo roommaLes (noL an unusual scenarlo,
especlally when Lhe Lwo lndlvlduals were frlends prlor Lo belng roommaLes or were lnvolved
romanLlcally when Lhe cohablLaLlon began), Lhen a dlssaLlsfled roommaLe has llLLle or no legal recourse
avallable Lo hlm/her. LnLerlng lnLo such a roommaLe slLuaLlon ls usually noL advlsed.
kent|ng w|th koommates ls compllcaLed. AlLhough many of our cllenLs wlll call Al1L8 Lhere has already
been a roommaLe confllcL regardlng fallure Lo pay renL, uLlllLles, or oLher expenses, a few polnLers for
Lhe nLW LenanL who ls golng Lo be llvlng wlLh a roommaLe:

99
M.C.L. c. 131b, 4 (10)
100
wbo Ate 1bose Coys? lott 1wo, landlord.com
43

*8efore beglnnlng a co-LenanL relaLlonshlp, be sure Lo creaLe a roommate agreement. 1hls agreemenL
can be wrlLLen by Lhe co-LenanLs, and should spell ouL exoctly whaL each roommaLe ls responslble for,
lncludlng shares of renL, housework, uLlllLles, eLc. lL shoul d also speclfy whlch amenlLles (e.g. food, cable
1v, lnLerneL provlder) wlll be shared and whlch wlll be provlded lndlvldually. AddlLlonally, lL can dlscuss
oLher lssues such as guesLs, nolse, and how dlsagreemenLs wlll be resolved. AlLhough Lhls conLracL ls noL
an offlclal legal documenL, lL coo be crlLlcal (and very helpful) evldence should a vlolaLlon occur and Lhe
case be broughL Lo small clalms courL.
*keep very careful records of all documenLs relaLlng Lo Lhe lease or renLal agreemenL, lncludlng a cop y
of Lhe slgned agreemenL, renL paymenL recelpLs, repalr records, correspondence beLween co-LenanLs
and Lhe landlord, eLc.
*1hlnk Lwlce abouL roomlng wlLh someone you don'L LrusL or sense ls lrresponslble. AlLhough "cheaLed
roommaLes" have some recourse ln small clalms courL, ofLen Lhe hassle and expense of pursulng each
acLlon ls greaLer Lhan any amounL a roommaLe could hope Lo recelve as a resulL.

1erm|nat|on and Lv|ct|on
1here are Lwo ways ln whlch a Lenancy can end:
1erm|nat|on - Lhe endlng of a renLal agreemenL or lease by elLher Lhe landlord or Lhe LenanL.
Lv|ct|on - Lhe forced removal of a LenanL. LvlcLlon can only be ordered by a [udge
101
.
Whlle LermlnaLlon ls a regular parL of any landlord/LenanL relaLlonshlp (evenLually Lhe LenanL moves Lo a
new dwelllng), evlcLlon ls much more serlous as lL may leave a LenanL wlLh nowhere Lo llve. lor Lhls
reason, MassachuseLLs law places sLrlcL guldellnes on evlcLlon.
Va||d keasons for Lv|ct|on vary dependlng on Lhe Lype of Lenancy:
1enant w|th a Lease - a landlord can only aLLempL Lo evlcL a LenanL wlLh a lease lf Lhe LenanL has 1)noL
been paylng renL, 2)has caused excesslve damage Lo Lhe dwelllng, or 3)has vlolaLed Lhe Lerms of Lhe
lease.
1enant-at-W||| - a landlord may aLLempL Lo evlcL a LenanL-aL-wlll for any reason, excepL as an acL of
reLallaLlon. A landlord ls noL requlred Lo provlde a LenanL -aL-wlll wlLh any reason for LermlnaLlon of
Lenancy, however, Lhe landlord musL sLlll follow proper evlcLlon procedures.

keta||at|on - AlLhough Lhe landlord of a LenanL-aL-wlll can LermlnaLe Lhe Lenancy wlLhouL reason, Lhe
landlord cannoL do so ln response Lo Lhe LenanL's exerclslng of legal rlghLs. lf a landlord aLLempLs Lo

101
Ooestloos of tbe week. 1eooot's klqbts, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce webslLe
46

change or LermlnaLe a Lenancy or lncrease renL wlLhln slx monLhs of a LenanL's conLacLlng Lhe 8oar d of
PealLh, [olnlng a LenanLs' organlzaLlon, or exerclslng oLher legal rlghLs, Lhe landlord's acLlons can be
consldered reLallaLlon agalnsL Lhe LenanL. unless Lhe landlord can prove LhaL s/he ls changlng Lhe
Lenancy for reasons oLher Lhan your havlng exerclsed your rlghLs, Lhe landlord wlll noL be able Lo ralse
Lhe renL, change or LermlnaLe Lhe Lenancy. enalLles for vlolaLlon of Lhls law agalnsL reLallaLlon lnclude
flnes of up Lo Lhree monLhs' renL, acLual damages susLalned by Lhe LenanL, and cosLs of Lhe LenanL's sulL
agalnsL Lhe landlord, lncludlng Lhe aLLorney's fees.
102

1he Lv|ct|on rocess
1he evlcLlon process has several sLeps:
Not|ce to u|t - flllng a noLlce Lo CulL ls Lhe flrsL sLep a landlord musL Lake Lo commence evlcLlon
procedures. 1hls noLlce comes wlLh a bullL-ln Llme perlod (usually 14 days) durlng whlch Lhe LenanL can
fulflll hls obllgaLlons. lf Lhe LenanL falls Lo do so, however, he does oot have Lo move ouL aL Lhe end of
Lhls Llme perlod. Cnly a [udge can order a LenanL Lo move ouL.
Summary rocess and Comp|a|nt - afLer noLlce perlod has passed, a Summary rocess and ComplalnL ls
dellvered Lo Lhe LenanL by Lhe landlord, whlch offlclally lnforms Lhe LenanL LhaL Lhe landlord ls Laklng
legal acLlon. 1he complalnL wlll sLaLe Lhe daLe of Lhe '''evlcLlon hearlng''' and Lhe daLe on whlch Lhe
answer musL be flled. 1he Answer ls Lhe LenanL's response sLaLlng why he should noL be evlcLed. 1he
Answer also glves Lhe LenanL Lhe opporLunlLy Lo make counLerclalms agalnsL Lhe landlord, lncludlng, for
example, healLh code vlolaLlons, reLallaLlon, harassmenL, securlLy deposlL vlolaLlons, or lmproper
evlcLlon procedure.
103

1he Lv|ct|on near|ng - Lakes place on Lhe daLe lndlcaLed by Lhe Summary rocess and ComplalnL.
Not|ce of Appea| - lf, aL Lhe hearlng, Lhe [udge orders evlcLlon, Lhe LenanL may flle a noLlce of Appeal.
1hls musL be done wlLhln 10 days afLer Lhe [udgmenL daLe.
104

Lxecut|on - lf Lhe [udge concludes LhaL Lhe LenanL should be evlcLed, he wlll lssue an execuLlon whlch ls
an evlcLlon order. 1hls execuLlon paper wlll be glven Lo Lhe landlord 10 days afLer Lhe [udgmenL ls
enLered, and lL ls mandaLory parL of Lhe execuLlon process (l.e. a landlord cannoL evlcL a LenanL wlLhouL
lL). 1he execuLlon ls good for 3 monLhs so lf Lhe landlord allows Lhe LenanL Lo sLay on Lhe properLy,
he/she can laLer use Lhe execuLlon aL any Llme wlLhln Lhe Lhree monLhs. Powever, lf Lhe wlLhln Lhe Lhree
monLhs Lhe landlord accepLs paymenL of Lhe amounL won ln Lhe summary process acLlon and Lhe
currenL renL, he/she cannoL use Lhe execuLlon.
103


102
M.C.L. c. 186, 18
103
1be 1eooot's commooJmeots, MassachuseLLs LxecuLlve Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs
104
1be 1eooot's commooJmeots, MassachuseLLs LxecuLlve Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs
103
1be 1eooot's commooJmeots, MassachuseLLs LxecuLlve Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs
47

48 nour Not|ce - aL leasL 48 hours before Lhe execuLlon ls served, Lhe LenanL musL be glven a wrlLLen
noLlce of Lhe daLe and Llme when s/he wlll be physlcally removed.
106

Landlords of publlc houslng and renL conLrol LenanLs musL flrsL go Lhrough Lhe l ocal houslng auLhorlLy
and renL conLrol board, respecLlvely, before Lhe landlord can proceed wlLh Lhe evlcLlon. ubllc houslng
and renL conLrol LenanLs have Lhe ablllLy Lo a hearlng ln fronL of Lhe approprlaLe board on Lhelr
evlcLlon.
107

Lv|ct|on - When Lhe daLe wrlLLen on Lhe execuLlon order arrlves, Lhe LenanL musL move ouL. lf you do
noL, a sherlff or consLable may remove your belonglngs and place Lhem ln sLorage lf you are noL Lhere aL
Lhe Llme of removal Lo clalm Lhem.
108

Stay of Lxecut|on - lf Lhe evlcLlon ls noL Lhe LenanL's faulL or Lhe LenanL cannoL flnd anoLher place Lo llve,
Lhe LenanL may be able Lo recelve a SLay of LxecuLlon, allowlng Lhe LenanL Lo sLay ln hls aparLmenL for
up Lo 6 monLhs. Llderly or handlcapped LenanLs can requesL a sLay of up Lo one year.
109















106
M.C.L. c. 239, 3
107
M.C.L. c. 121b, 32.
108
M.C.L. c. 239, 4
109
1be 1eooot's commooJmeots, MassachuseLLs LxecuLlve Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs
48

Chapter 4
nome Improvement Law
ln addlLlon Lo Lhe normal proLecLlons of small clalms courL, cerLaln Lypes of recourse have, ln recenL
years, been granLed Lo homeowners who were vlcLlms of mlsLreaLmenL aL Lhe hands of decepLlve home
lmprovemenL conLracLors. 1hese proLecLlons sLem from Lhe provlslons of M.C.L. 142A, Lhe Pome
lmprovemenL ConLracLor Law.
1he maln lssues addressed by Lhe Pome lmprovemenL ConLracLor Law (PlCL) are contractor
reg|strat|on, bu||d|ng perm|ts, contracts, arb| trat|on, and Lhe Guaranty Iund. MosL of Lhe lnformaLlon
ln Lhls chapLer wlll seem almosL llke a procedural gulde Lo reachlng Lhe CuaranLy lund. ln a nuLshell, Lhls
fund allows for paymenLs of up Lo $10,000 on declslons where conLracLors have been dellnquen L ln
paylng for damages and decepLlve pracLlces. under Lhe provlslons of 142A, plalnLlffs can clrcumvenL Lhe
plLfalls of Lhe small clalms collecLlons process.
Contractor keg|strat|on
CurrenL Law mandaLes LhaL home lmprovemenL conLracLors be reglsLered wlLh Lhe 8oard of 8ulldlng
8egulaLlons and SLandards.
110
CerLaln Lypes of conLracLlng are exempL from Lhls requlremenL.
111

ConLracLlng [obs LhaL are exempL from reglsLraLlon requlremenLs lnclude:
lndlvlduals who work for Lhe CommonwealLh or lLs pollLlcal subdlvlslons
Schools LhaL offer vocaLlonal Lralnlng ln Lhe form of home lmprovemenL
Llcensed professlonals such as archlLecLs, elecLrlclans, and plumbers who provlde servlces LhaL
are excluslvely wlLhln Lhe scope of Lhelr professlon (does noL lnclude conLracLors)
Pome lmprovemenL [obs done by Lhe owner
lndlvlduals who do work for a conLracLor buL are noL acLually a conLracLor
ConLracLed [obs for $300 or less
lndlvlduals who perform conLracLlng and subconLracLlng on a less Lhan full Llme buslness Anu
recelves less Lhan $3000 a year ln gross revenue from Lhe [obs
ConLracLors who were excluslvely ln Lhe followlng are also exempL from conLracLor reglsLraLlon
requlremenLs:
CenLral PeaLlng/Alr CondlLlonlng
Lnergy ConservaLlon
Landscaplng

110
M.C.L. c. 142A, 9
111
M.C.L. c. 142A, 14
49

lnLerlor alnLlng
Wall and lloor Coverlngs
lenclng
lreesLandlng Masonry Walls
Above Cround ools
ShuLLers and Awnlngs
Cround Level aLlos
urlveways
lf a homeowner has conLracLed for a servlce noL llsLed above, and Lhe conLracLor ls noL reglsLered Lhe
homeowner has no rlghLs under Lhe PlCL.
112
Cne may sLlll, however, seek some recourse under Lhe
provlslons regardlng conLracLs ln Lhe unlform Commerclal Code, and furLhermore, one should reporL Lhe
lllegal conLracLlng Lo Lhe ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce.
8eglsLered conLracLors should be falrly noLl ceable because, by law, Lhey musL dlsplay Lhelr 60 dlglL
reglsLraLlon number on all adverLlsemenLs, conLracLs, and permlLs. 1o check up on a conLracLor's
reglsLraLlon sLaLus, call (617) 727-3200 exL. 23203.
1he kes|dent|a| Contractors Guaranty Iund
113

Arguably Lhe mosL cruclal parL of home lmprovemenL law ls Lhe 8esldenLlal ConLracLors CuaranLy lund.
1hls allows wronged homeowners Lo collecL money even lf a reglsLered conLracLor ls unwllllng Lo pay for
damages and decepLlve pracLlces.
Lvery conLracLor who reglsLers wlLh Lhe sLaLe pays a one-Llme fee based on Lhe number of employees on
hls payroll. 1he money noL needed Lo process Lhe reglsLraLlon Lhen goes lnLo Lhe CuaranLy lund.
114

When a clalm ls pald ouL Lo a consumer because a [udgmenL award ls noL pald, Lhe responslble
conLracLor musL relmburse Lhe fund wlLh lnLeresL wlLhln 30 days. lf he does noL, he may face flnes,
revocaLlon of hls reglsLraLlon, and ln some cases, crlmlnal prosecuLlon.
113

ln order Lo recelve paymenL from Lhe fund, a consumer musL flle an appllcaLlon Lo Lhe fun wlLhln 6
monLhs of Lhe lnlLlal [udgmenL.
116
AppllcaLlons can be obLalned Lhrough Lhe Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs
and 8uslness 8egulaLlon (CCA88). Consumers musL demonsLraLe LhaL "all cusLomary and reasonable
efforLs" Lo collecL Lhe [udgmenL award have been exhausLed.
1be stote's Jefloltloo of "oll costomoty ooJ teosoooble effotts.

112
M.C.L. c. 142A, 13
113
M.C.L. c. 142, 3
114
M.C.L. c. 142A, 11
113
M.C.L. c. 142A, 19
116
M.C.L. c. 142A, 7
30

Customary and keasonab|e Lffort means that act|on has been taken by or on beha|f of an aggr|eved
homeowner to secure a sat|sfactory reso|ut|on to a d|spute between a home |mprovement contractor
and a homeowner. 1h|s standard may be sat|sf|ed by a|| of the fo||ow|ng:
(a) subm|tt|ng ev|dence to the fund adm|n|strator that a wr|t of execut|on for a monetary court
[udgment was served upon the contractor by a constab|e or sher|ff at the contractor's |ast known
bus|ness address. An arb|trat|on award must be converted to a court [udgment |n order to obta|n a
wr|t of execut|on for serv|ce by a constab|e or sher|ff upon the contractor,
(b) |f the contractor |s bankrupt, subm|tt|ng ev|dence to the fund adm|n|strator from the Un|ted States
8ankruptcy Court conf|rm|ng that the contractor has f||ed for bankruptcy,
(c) subm|tt|ng ev|dence to the fund adm|n|strator that a serv|c e of court or arb|trat|on order was
attempted at a|| known or suspected addresses of the contractor by a constab|e or agent of the state,
(d) |f a c|a|m |s proper|y made before sma|| c|a|ms court, subm|tt|ng ev|dence to the fund
adm|n|strator that a not|ce to show cause has been served upon the contractor by a constab|e or
sher|ff at the contractor's |ast known bus|ness address, and that the contractor has fa||ed to pay the
c|a|m and has fa||ed to defend the c|a|m.
117

llnally, Lhere are llmlLs on Lhe amounLs and porLlons of Lhe [udgmenLs LhaL can be pald ouL by Lhe lund.
1he flrsL ls LhaL no slngle clalm can be pald more Lhan $10,000 by Lhe lund. lurLhermore, Lhe fund wlll
noL pay ouL more Lhan $73,000 ln clalms Lo vlcLlms of a slngle conLracLor wlLhln a 12 monLh perlod,
unless Lhe conLracLor has repald Lhe fund Lhe full amounL. llnally, Lhe clalms only cover whaL ls deflned
by Lhe sLaLe as "acLual loss." 1hls means LhaL Lhe fund wlll noL cover consequenLlal or punlLlve damages,
personal ln[ury, aLLorney's fees, courL or arblLraLlon cosLs or lnLeresL, even lf Lhe courL or arblLraLor
flgures Lhem lnLo Lhe [udgmenL.
118

nome Improvement Gu|de||nes
8u||d|ng erm|ts
lf a home lmprovemenL [ob requlres a bulldlng permlL, make sure that the contractor, and not the
consumer, secures |t. lf Lhe consumer secured Lhe conLracL, Lhe case ls noL losL, buL Lhe consumer may
noL apply Lo recelve a paymenL from Lhe CuaranLy lund ln Lhe evenL LhaL he or she wlns Lhe case and
Lhe conLracLor does noL pay. under Lhe provlslons of PlCL, a wrlLLen conLracL musL warn Lhe consumer
agalnsL securlng hls or her own bulldlng permlL. Powever, lf a conLracL dld noL warn Lhe consumer abouL
Lhls exempLlon, Lhe consumer can sLlll seek flnanclal recourse Lhrough Lhe CuaranLy lund.
119



117
201 CM8 14.02
118
M.C.L. c. 142A, 7
119
M.C.L. c. 142A, 2
31

Contracts
lL ls hlghly recommended LhaL a consumer geL a conLracL for any [ob, regardless of Lhe slze, buL Lhe sLaLe
only mandaLes a wrlLLen conLracL lf Lhe cosL of Lhe [ob exceeds $1000. If a contractor does not prov|de a
wr|tten contract for a [ob over 51000, h|s reg|strat|on may be suspended or revoked, and he may be
f|ned or face cr|m|na| prosecut|on.
120
Note tbot tbe low moy be oseJ ot olloJeJ to lo o JemooJ lettet os
levetoqe lo oo ottempt to fotce o coottoctot to settle lf be bos oot ptovlJeJ o vollJ leqol c oottoct wbeo
low tepoltes lt.
ln order for such a conLracL Lo be valld, cerLaln requlremenLs musL be meL:
121

1. Comp|ete not|f|cat|on of a|| part|es |nvo|ved, lncludlng reglsLraLlon numbers of all conLracLors
and subconLracLors.
2. Comp|ete descr|pt|on of the pro[ect, wlLh a compleLlon schedule and a flnal cosL agreemenL
wlLh paymenL schedule and slgnaLures.
3. A not|f|cat|on of the homeowner's r|ght to cance| Lhe conLracL wlLhln Lhree days of slgnlng.
4. A prov|s|on that the contractor shou|d acqu|re a|| bu||d|ng perm|ts, and LhaL lf Lhe homeowner
secures Lhem for hlmself, he wlll noL be ellglble for Lhe CuaranLy lund ln Lhe evenL of a dlspuLe.
AddlLlonal lLems of noLe ln Lhls secLlon:
*8y |aw, the contractor cannot co||ect more than one-th|rd of the cost of the contract |n advance,
unless Lhe [ob calls for speclal order maLerlals. lurLhermore, no conLracL can conLaln an acceleraLlon
clause allowlng Lhe conLracLor Lo speed up Lhe paymenL schedule because he feels lnsecure LhaL Lhe
homeowner wlll noL pay. Pe may, however, sLop worklng and demand LhaL Lhe homeowner puL Lhe
balance of paymenLs ln a [olnL escrow accounL (requlrlng boLh slgnaLures for wlLhdrawal) before
conLlnulng work.
122

*If the homeowner |s f|nanc|ng the home |mprovements, the contractor |s proh|b|ted from be|ng
|nvo|ved. Pe may nelLher lend Lhe money hlmself, nor acL ln as soclaLlon wlLh any lendlng lnsLlLuLlon lf
Lhe loan ls secured by a morLgage on Lhe home, nor may he offer flnanclng wlLh a speclflc lender lf Lhe
home ls used as collaLeral. 12" 2('"(;$"+ %& %33 &0'") 2%) &2" +052& &( )2(4 %+(7$! %$! $"5(&0%&" %
3(%$ ;0&2 %$8($" ;2( 2" -2(()"):
123
.
keso|v|ng D|sputes
When someLhlng goes wrong wlLh Lhe [ob, Lhe flrsL sLep ls a sLandard 30-day demand leLLer, senL boLh
cerLlfled and regular mall, reLurn recelpL requesLed. 1he leLLer should ouLllne, ln chronologlcal order,
how Lhe conLracLor has vlolaLed Lhe agreemenL. lL should furLher suggesL whaL acLlon Lhe cusLomer

120
M.C.L. c. 142A, 2
121
M.C.L. c. 142A, 2
122
M.C.L. c. 142A, 2
123
M.C.L. c. 142A, 17
32

would llke Lhe conLracLor Lo Lake, such as flnlshlng Lhe [ob, paylng for Lhe damages, or cancellng Lhe
conLracL.
lf Lhls measure does noL resolve Lhe dlspuLe, Lhere are Lhree oLher opLlons LhaL may be pursued:
Med|at|on
1hls allows boLh parLles Lo reach a muLually agreeable resoluLlon wlLh Lhe help of a faclllLaLor. 8ecause
of Lhe volunLary naLure of Lhls procedure, medlaLlon Lends Lo resulL (lf successful) ln compromlse and
noL vlcLory. lor Lhls reason, lL ls ldeal for parLles who expecL Lo work LogeLher ln Lhe fuLure, buL lL wlll
ofLen fall Lhrough for conLenLlous parLles.
Arb|trat|on
ln cerLaln slLuaLlons, Lhe case may be ellglble for Lhe sLaLe-approved Pome lmprovemenL ArblLraLlon
rogram.
124
1o quallfy, one musL be able Lo prove LhaL:
1here was a wrlLLen conLracL for Lhe [ob.
1he conLracLor was reglsLered aL Lhe Llme of Lhe conLracL.
123

1he work was done on a 1-4 famlly, owner-occupled, prlmary resldence ln MassachuseLLs.
126

ArblLraLlon ls Llme senslLlve. no clalm may be flled for arblLraLlon afLer Lwo years from Lhe daLe of Lhe
conLracL.
127
Powever, cases LhaL do noL meeL Lhls resLrlcLlon can sLlll be consldered ln small clalms
courL.
arLles who have secured Lhelr own bulldlng permlLs are ellglble for arblLraLlon, Lhey slmply have
forgone Lhelr rlghLs Lo Lhe CuaranLy lund.
As wlLh oLher forms of arblLraLlon, Lhls process ls blndlng and carrles Lhe full welghL of a small clalms
courL declslon. lL ls a qulcker process Lhan small clalms courL, because lL ls less backlogged and Lhe
arblLraLor wlll be able Lo arrange a daLe more qulckly Lhan Lhe courL clerk could. lurLhermore, Pome
lmprovemenL ArblLraLlon ls noL sub[ecL Lo Lhe $7,000 cap LhaL governs mosL small clalms courL Lr lals.
1he downslde of arblLraLlon ls LhaL Lhe flllng fee ls hlgher, Lhough lL ls deLermlned by Lhe slze of Lhe case
on a slldlng scale. 1he cosL of flllng ls added onLo Lhe declslon lf Lhe plalnLlff wlns. lf Lhe case ls losL, Lhe
plalnLlff musL pay Lhe fll lng fee ouL of hls or her own pockeL. Powever, Lhls rlsk should noL deLer anyone
who wlshes Lo proceed wlLh arblLraLlon - Lhere are many advanLages Lo Lhls opLlon ln Lerms of Lhe
amounL of Llme and energy LhaL can be saved and Lhe amounL of money LhaL can be awarded. lf Lhe
consumer feels confldenL LhaL he or she wlll wln, arblLraLlon can be Lhe qulckesL resoluLlon.

124
M.C.L. c. 142A, 3
123
M.C.L. c. 142A, 4
126
M.C.L. c. 142A, 1
127
M.C.L. c. 142A, 4
33


1o lnlLlaLe Lhls process, Lhe plalnLlff should do Lhe followlng:
128

1. SelecL an arblLraLlon flrm LhaL has been approved by Lhe Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs and
8uslness 8egulaLlon (CCA88). lor more lnformaLlon on arblLraLlon flrms call Lhe LxecuLlve Cfflce
of Consumer Affalrs or Lhe ulrecLor of Pome lmprovemenL ConLracLor 8eglsLraLlon.
2. llll ouL an appllcaLlon and pay Lhe appllcaLlon fee for reglsLraLl on.
1he flrm wlll Lhen seL up a daLe for arblLraLlon, and Lhen Lhe parLles show up and presenL Lhelr cases.
Sma|| C|a|ms Court
lf Lhe dlspuLe ls for $7,000 or less, small clalms courL ls an equally vlable opLlon, wlLh a blndlng declslon
and a lower flllng fee, [usL a blL more of a backlog. 1he process for lnlLlaLlng a clalm ls Lhe same as ln all
oLher Lypes of cases. Colng Lhrough Small Clalms CourL raLher Lhan arblLraLlon does noL ln any way
prevenL or hlnder a plalnLlff from applylng Lo Lhe CuaranLy lund.
lf Lhe plalnLlff has won a case and has exhausLed all reasonable means of collecLlng [udgmenL paymenLs,
he or she can Lhen apply Lo Lhe CuaranLy lund Lo recelve paymenLs.














128
201 CM8 14.03
34

Chapter S
Consumer Law
Consumer Law ls almed aL prevenLlng buslnesses/corporaLlons from unfalrly decelvlng, cheaLlng, or
oLherwlse mlsleadlng consumers. 1he deflnlLlve consumer sLaLue ln MassachuseLLs Ceneral Law ls
Chapter 93A, the Consumer rotect|on Act. 1hls sLaLuLe, comblned wlLh Lhe Un|form Commerc|a| Code
(UCC) and Lhe Code of Massachusetts kegu|at|ons (CMk), comprlse Lhe bulk of MCL consumer law.
MosL of consumer law Joes oot cover prlvaLe parLy sales. 1he followlng chapLer wlll deLall ChapLer 93A,
and wlll explaln Lhe porLlons of Lhe unlform Commerclal Code and Lhe Code of MassachuseLLs
8egulaLlons LhaL are relevanL Lo proLecLlng consumers from unfalr LreaLmenL by buslnesses.
Chapter 93A
Chapter 93A ls deslgned Lo proLecL consumers from Lhe 7$#%0+ %$! !"-"4&0<" 4+%-&0-") employed by
some buslnesses. lL glves consumers (who feel Lhey have been unfalrly decelved by a buslness) Lhe rlghL
Lo flle a clalm ln courL and Lhus recelve compensaLlon for Lhe moneLary loss Lhey consequenLly suffered.
Doub|e or 1reb|e (tr|p|e) Damages may be awarded for cases falllng under ChapLer 93A. lf a buslness
knowlngly vlolaLed Lhe law or lf, havlng been lnformed of such a vlolaLlon, Lhe buslness dld noL correcL
Lhe problem, Lhen Lhe consumer ls enLlLled Lo recelve up Lo tbtee tlmes Lhe amounL of money he losL aL
Lhe hands of Lhe buslness. Powever Lhere ls an lmporLanL excepLlon. lf Lhe buslness makes a reasonable
offer Lo LhaL ls re[ecLed by Lhe prospecLlve plalnLlff, Lhen Lhe courL may llmlL Lhe plalnLlff's recovery Lo
Lhe amounL of Lhe seLLlemenL offer.
129
lL ls lmporLanL, Lherefore, LhaL Lhe LhlrLy-day demand leLLer be as
speclflc as posslble so as Lo lnform Lhe buslness of lLs vlolaLlon of Lhe law. 1he mlnlmum amounL a
cusLomer can geL back ls double damages, and Lrlple damages plus aLLorneys' fees and courL cosLs, ls Lhe
maxlmum, when a vlolaLlon of Lhls Lype ls proven.
Some examples of pracLlce LhaL mlghL fall under Lhe aegls of ChapLer 93A would be lf:
A consumer ls noL fully lnformed of Lhe naLure of a producL
1he refund/reLurn pollcy ls noL clearly sLaLed on a slgn or recelpL (lL ls noL enough slmply Lo have
lL wrlLLen on Lhe recelpL. lL musL be known before purchase.)
A buslness does noL meeL lLs warranLy agreemenL
A buslness engaged ln false adverLlslng
1he followlng guldellnes musL be meL ln order for a case Lo fall under ChapLer 93A:
1he maLLer musL lnvolve a buslness. rlvaLe parLy sales are noL covered under 93A
1he good or servlce purchased musL be for personal or household use

129
M.C.L. c. 93A, 9
33

Cne musL have suffered acLual moneLary damages (e.g. wasLed money) unless one proves LhaL
Lhls unfalr pracLlce may cause a loss of money or properLy
1he complalnlng parLy musL wrlLe a 30-day demand leLLer
ChapLer 93A requlres LhaL a consumer who belleves hlm/herself wronged wrlLe a 30 -day demand leLLer,
send lL Lo Lhe offendlng parLy and glve Lhem 30 days Lo respond.
130
1he Llme wlndow ls flrm ln 93A
demand leLLers and must be 30 days.
Merchand|se Cred|ts & G|ft Cert|f|cates
ClfL cerLlflcaLes are deflned as a wrlLlng...purchased by a buyer for use by a person oLher Lhan Lhe
buyer, noL redeemable ln cash and usabl e ln lLs face amounL ln lleu of cash ln exchange for goods or
servlces supplled by Lhe seller." ClfL cerLlflcaLes lnclude elecLronlc cards wlLh predeflned dollar values,
merchandlse credlLs, cerLlflcaLes where Lhe lssuer has recelved paymenL for Lhe fuLure purchase of
goods or servlces. re-pald calllng cards are noL consldered glfL cerLlflcaLes.
131
1he reclplenL of a glfL
cerLlflcaLe has aL leasL 7 years (from Lhe daLe of purchase) Lo redeem lL. lf Lhere ls no explraLlon daLe
marked on a glfL cerLlflcaLe, Lhen lL does noL explre under MassachuseLLs law.
132

1he flnal selllng prlce musL be afflxed Lo all producLs (uC barcodes LhaL can be elecLronlcally scanned
are sufflclenL).
133

1he Un|form Commerc|a| Code (UCC)
134

AlLhough 93A granLs consumers Lhe rlghL Lo sue buslnesses for unfalr or decepLlve pracLlces, Lhere are
many oLher slLuaLlons ln whlch cusLomers feel as Lhough Lhey dld noL geL whaL Lhey pald for, desplLe Lhe
facL LhaL Lhe buslness dld noL knowlngly decelve Lhem. 1he unlform Commerclal Code applles ln man y
of Lhese slLuaLlons.
1he Imp||ed Warranty of Merchantab|||ty
1here ls no "as ls" sale ln MassachuseLLs. lnsLead, all goods and servlces come wlLh an lmplled warranLy
of merchanLablllLy. lf a cusLomer buys a producL, lL ls lmplled LhaL Lhe goods purchased wlll perform Lhe
baslc funcLlons for whlch Lhey are lnLended reasonably well for a reasonable amounL of Llme. 1he
lmplled warranLy of merchanLablllLy does not apply Lo prlvaLe parLy sales. lf a producL does noL meeL
Lhe requlremenLs of Lhe lmplled warranLy of merchanLablllLy, Lhe consumer can sue Lhe seller ln small
clalms courL.
133
Powever, lf Lhe buyer lnspecLed obvlous defecLs before purchase, or lf Lhe buyer refused

130
M.C.L. c. 93A, 9
131
M.C.L. c. 333u, 1
132
M.C.L. c. 200A, 3u
133
940 CM8 3.13(1a)
134
M.C.L. c. 106
133
M.C.L. c. 106, 2-314
36

Lo lnspecL Lhe goods, he cannoL clalm non-fulflllmenL of Lhe lmplled warranLy of merchanLablllLy due Lo
such defecLs.
136

1he Imp||ed Warranty of I|tness
lf a seller lnforms a buyer LhaL a producL can serve a parLlcular purpose Lo a parLlcular exLenL, such a
warranLy ls creaLed, and a buyer can sue Lhe seller lf Lhe producL does noL llve up Lo Lhls warranLy. 1hls
ls parLlcularly Lrue when Lhe buyer ls relylng on Lhe seller's sklll or [udgmenL Lo selecL sulLable goods .
137

1o dlsLlngulsh Lhe lmplled warranLy of flLness for a parLlcular purpose from Lhe lmplled warranLy of
merchanLablllLy, Lake Lhe fol lowlng example:
A shoe flLs, and one can walk ln lL. 1hls fulfllls Lhe lmplled warranLy of merchanLablllLy because Lhe
producL serves lLs baslc funcLlon. 8uL lf Lhe shoe salesman says LhaL Lhe shoe ls sulLable for hlklng, Lhe
producL musL adequaLely serve Lhls funcLlon for lL Lo fulflll Lhe lmplled warranLy of flLness for a parLlcular
purpose, because Lhe buslness Lold Lhe cusLomer LhaL lL would.
CLher warranLles/CuaranLees are also lncluded ln Lhe uCC:
Lxpress Guarantee - lf Lhe seller makes a verbal or wrlLLen promlse or afflrms a facL abouL a
producL Lhls consLlLuLes an express guaranLee. uescrlpLlons, samples, demos, models, ads, and
sLaLemenLs are all express guaranLees.
138

Uncond|t|ona| Guarantee - 1he seller lndlcaLes Lhe buyer can have Lhe producL repa lred,
replaced, or refunded for any reason aL all.
139

I||usory Guarantee - An lllegal guaranLee LhaL aLLaches Loo many condlLlons Lo Lhe repalr or
replacemenL of a good.
140

Contracts are also covered under Lhe uCC. A conLracL ls an agreemenL beLween Lwo parLles. 1he parLles
can be pr|vate part|es or bus|nesses. 1here musL be an offer an accepLance, and Lhe conLracL musL be
poLenLlally poslLlve for boLh parLles Lo be consldered legal. ConLracLs are lllegal ln Lhe followlng cases:
Iraudu|ent M|srepresentat|on - valuable lnformaLlon ls omlLLed or fabrlcaLed.
141

Incapac|ty of the Consumer - aL leasL one parLy Lo a conLracL ls a mlnor, menLally lncompeLenL,
or lnLoxlcaLed.
Incapac|ty of the Merchant - 1he merchanL ls noL reglsLered as a merchanL ln Lhls sLaLe. ln Lhls
case, he musL be used as a prlvaLe lndlvldual, noL a buslness.

136
M.C.L. c. 106, 2-316
137
M.C.L. c. 106, 2-313
138
M.C.L. c. 106, 2-313
139
M.C.L. c. 106, 3-106
140
940 CM8 3.01
141
M.C.L. c. 106, 1-206
37

Unconsc|onab|e Contract C|auses - lf one parLy Lo Lhe conLracL Lakes unfalr advanLage of Lhe
oLher parLy's lnablllLy Lo proLecL hls lnLeresLs. 1he courL may refuse Lo enforce Lhe enLlre
conLracL, or refuse only enforce Lhe unconsclonable clause of Lhe conLracL
142
.
Mutua| M|stake- boLh parLles mlsundersLood someLhlng lmporLanL ln Lhe conLracL.
lf a conLracL ls lllegal, one can:
1. 8esclnd Lhe conLracL, or say LhaL Lhe conLracL once exlsLed, buL ls no longer legally blndlng. ln
Lhls case, a consumer should reLurn Lhe goods and recelve a full refund.
2. ulsafflrm Lhe conLracL, or say LhaL Lhe conLracL never exlsLed. 1hls can be done ln cases where
Lhere was lncapaclLy of Lhe consumer. 8e sure Lo send a leLLer Lo dlsafflrm Lo Lhe oLher parLy.
3. CollecL uamages, posslbly double or Lreble, by Laklng Lhe oLher parLy Lo Small Clalms CourL. 1hls
can be done lf Lhere was fraudulenL mlsrepresenLaLlon, unconsclonable conLracL clauses, and/or
unfalr or decepLlve pracLl ces on Lhe parL of Lhe merchanL.

1he Code of Massachusetts kegu|at|ons: 1|t|e 940
1lLle 940 of Lhe CM8 ls anoLher place where consumer-relevanL laws can be found. 1he provlslons mosL
relevanL Lo consumers and Lhelr shopplng rlghLs are dlscussed below. 8emember, lf a buslness engages
ln an "unfalr and/or decepLlve" pracLlce (whlch many of Lhe below are), 93A granLs consumers Lhe rlghL
Lo sue and collecL as much as Lhree Llmes Lhe amounL Lhey losL. 1he regulaLlon ls conLalned ln 940 CM8,
and Lhe rlghL Lo sue and collecL ls conLalned ln 93A.
kefund, keturn & Cance||at|on o||c|es
A sLore may have any reLurn pollcy lL wlshes as long as lL ls posLed clearly and consplcuously where lL
can be seen before Lhe purchase ls made.
143
Pavlng Lhe reLurn pollcy only on Lhe recelpL would noL
saLlsfy Lhls law because Lhe cusLomer ls noL glven Lhe recelpL unLll afLer Lhe purchase. A sLore cannoL use
lLs reLurn pollcy Lo refuse Lhe reLurn of defect|ve merchandlse under Lhe lmplled warranLy of
merchanLablllLy, so a reLurn pollcy sLaLlng LhaL all sales are "as ls" (wlLhouL lncludlng a clause excepLlng
defecLlve merchandlse) ls unaccepLable.
144

C|ear and Consp|cuous D|sc|osure

142
M.C.L. c. 106, 2-302
143
940 CM8 3.13(4)
144
coosomet Affolts. 5bopploq klqbts, ClLy of 8osLon webslLe.
38

Clear and Consplcuous ulsclosure means LhaL a merchanL musL dlsclose wheLher any producLs (or parLs
of a producL) for sale are used and/or defecLlve ln some way. CLher lnformaLlon LhaL would affecL a
buyer's declslon Lo purchase a producL musL also be dlsclosed.
143

="%)($%,3" >74430") of all adverLlsed producLs musL be on hand, or else Lhe buslness ls an vlolaLlon of
940 CM8. 1he only excepLlon ls lf Lhe adverLlsemenL clalms LhaL supplles are llmlLed. lf Lhls clalm ls noL
made, and supplles are unreasonably low, Lhe merchanL musL provlde Lhe cusLomer wlLh a raln check.
146

8a|t and Sw|tch adverLlslng lnvolves lurlng cusLomers wlLh an especlally good deal an Lhen aLLempLlng
Lo Lalk Lhem lnLo purchaslng anoLher producL LhaL ls more advanLageous for Lhe merchanL Lo sell. 1hls
Lype of adverLlslng lncludes: refusal Lo sell adverLlsed producLs, changlng Lhe Lerms adverLlsed, clalmlng
lnsufflclenL supplles, and demonsLraLlng a dlfferenL producL Lhan Lhe one adverLlsed. Such pracLlces are
lllegal.
147

Layaway |ans
148

A layaway plan allows a cusLomer Lo purchase merchandlse Lhrough lnsLallmenL paymenLs. A cusLomer
recelves Lhe merchandlse afLer all paymenLs have been made ln full. Some resLrlcLlons on layaway plans
lnclude Lhe followlng:
Iu|| D|sc|osure - a merchanL musL fully dlsclose hls layaway pollcy and musL lnform Lhe cusLomer
ln wrlLlng lf paymenLs are noL refundable or are onl y parLlally refundable.
Sett|ng As|de of Spec|f|c Merchand|se - a merchanL musL be LruLhful when Lelllng a cusLomer
LhaL speclflc merchandlse or exacL dupllcaLes are belng seL aslde.
1|me er|od D|sc|osure - a merchanL musL lnform Lhe cusLomer lf goods wll l only be seL aslde for
a cerLaln amounL of Llme.
No r|ce Increases - a merchanL cannoL lncrease Lhe prlce of merchandlse, elLher Lhrough a
hlgher paymenL or Lhrough more paymenLs, nor can Lhe merchanL subsLlLuLe lower prlced
merchandlse.
kece|pts - a cusLomer musL be glven a daLed recelpL for each paymenL made, and, upon requesL,
Lhe merchanL musL Lell Lhe cusLomer Lhe LoLal amounL of paymenLs already made.

Cther Consumer Laws]ku|es
1he Coo||ng Cff er|od

143
940 CM8 3.01
146
940 CM8 3.02(3c, d).</
147
940 CM8 3.02M
148
940 CM8 3.12
39

1he Coollng-Cff erlod ls Lhe perlod of Llme afLer a purchase durlng whlch a sales conLracL may be
resclnded or merchandlse auLomaLlcally reLurned lf Lhe cusLomer so deslres. Cne common
mlsconcepLlon among consumers ls LhaL Lhere are flxed Llmes Lo slmply r eLurn consumer LransacLlons.
1nIS IS IALSL.
ln facL, Lhere are very few slLuaLlons where Lhe law allows a coollng-off perlod. Cf course, lf a conLracL
conLalns a cancellaLlon provlslon, Lhen LhaL would apply. 8uL noL all conLracLs have Lhls provlslon. 1here
are a few slLuaLlons ln whlch a coollng-off perlod does apply. 1hey are:
Door to Door Sa|es - lf you make a purchase aL home or aL a locaLlon LhaL ls noL Lhe seller's
permanenL place of buslness, boLh MassachuseLLs law and Lhe lederal 1rade Commlsslon's
Coollng-Cff 8ule glve you Lhree buslness days Lo change your mlnd. 1he purchase musL be made
aL a place oLher Lhan Lhe merchanL's usual place of buslness and musL be for goods cosLlng more
Lhan $23. 1o cancel a conLracL, you musL noLlfy Lhe seller ln wrlLlng aL Lhe address glven ln Lhe
conLracL no laLer Lhan mldnlghL of Lhe Lhlrd buslness day followlng slgnlng of Lhe conLracL.
WlLhln 10 buslness days afLer recelpL of your cancellaLlon noLlce, Lhe seller musL reLurn your
paymenL. WlLhln 20 days, Lhe seller musL elLher plck up Lhe lLems lefL wlLh you, or relmburse
you for malllng expenses.
149

nea|th C|ub Membersh|ps - lf, afLer slgnlng a conLracL Lo [oln a healLh club, you reallze LhaL you
do noL really wanL Lo [oln Lhe healLh club, you have 3 buslness days ln whlch Lo uncondlLlonally
cancel Lhe agreemenL. 1he 3 days begln when you recelve a copy of Lhe wrlLLen conLracL or a
wrlLLen recelpL for paymenL.
130

Cred|t Serv|ce Crgan|zat|ons - lf a consumer slgns a conLracL wlLh an organlzaLlon LhaL deals
wlLh resLorlng, lmprovlng, or servlclng hls credlL, Lhe conLracL may be canceled up unLll mldnlghL
of Lhe Lhlrd buslness day afLer slgnlng lL.
131

ln Lhese cases, Lhe lederal 1rade Commlsslon Coollng-Cff 8ule
132
mandaLes LhaL:
AL Lhe Llme of Lhe purchase, Lhe cusLomer be glven noLlce LhaL s/he has Lhe rlghL Lo cancel Lhe
sale.
1he cusLomer musL be glven Lwo coples of Lhe cancellaLlon forms and a copy of Lhe sales
conLracL or recelpL.
1he conLracL or recelpL musL lnclude Lhe merchanL's address, Lhe daLe, and noLlflcaLlon of Lhe
rlghL Lo cancel Lhe sale durlng Lhe coollng-off perlod.
'''unsollclLed Merchandlse''' (l.e. merchandlse LhaL an lndlvldual never offlclally requesLed) can be
consldered an uncondlLlonal glfL. 8eclplenLs are under no obllgaLlon Lo pay.
133


149
M.C.L. c. 93, 48
130
M.C.L. c. 93, 81
131
cteJlt kepolt Otqoolzotloos Act, u.S.C. 1679, et. sep.
132
l1c locts fot coosomets. wbeo ooJ now to coocel o 5ole, lederal 1rade Commlsslon webslLe.
133
M.C.l. c. 93, 43
60

I1C's Ma|| and 1e|ephone Crder ku|e
1he lederal 1rade Commlsslon's Mall or 1elephone Crder 8ule covers all merchandlse ordered by mall,
phone, over Lhe lnLerneL, or vla Lhe fax machlne. lL sLlpulaLes LhaL lf a merchanL does noL promlse a
speclflc dellvery Llme, Lhe merchandlse ordered musL be dellvered wlLhln 30 days of L he merchanL's
recelpL of Lhe order (or Lhe daLe merchandlse ls charged Lo your credlL card.) lf Lhe company ls unable Lo
shlp wlLhln Lhe promlsed Llme, Lhe company musL glve Lhe buyer Lhe cholce of agreelng Lo Lhe delay or
cancellng Lhe order and recelvlng a prompL refund. Powever, lf you are applylng for credlL Lo pay for
your purchase and a company doesn'L promlse a shlpplng Llme, Lhe company has 30 days Lo shlp afLer
recelvlng your order.
134

keso|v|ng Consumer D|sputes
lf a vlolaLlon occurs, and a consumer ls dlssaLlsfled wlLh Lhe goods/servlces he recelved, Lhere are
several ways ln whlch Lhe consumer can aLLempL Lo reLrleve whaL he losL:
ke[ect|on - Lhe consumer looks over Lhe goods and re[ecLs Lhem lf Lhey do noL conform Lo Lhe
warranLy or conLracL ln any way. Pe or she musL noLlfy Lhe seller reasonably soon, and should
Lhen recelve a refund.
133

Cover - Lhe consumer buys subsLlLuLe goods and collecLs Lhe dlfference beLween Lhe conLracLed
goods and Lhe subsLlLuLe goods from Lhe seller.
kepa|r
Spec|f|c erformance - Lhe consumer conLracLs for a speclflc good Lo be made and lL does noL
come Lhrough. ln Lhls case, Lhe consumer can sue for refund, fulflllmenL of Lhe conLracL and/or
approprlaLe damages.
Add Inc|denta| Damages - lncldenLal damages arlse from expenses from recelpL and care of
faulLy goods and/or from expenses lncurred as a resulL of delay or breach of warranLy. A
consumer can add lncldenLal damages Lo hls clalm.
rob|ems w|th Co||ect|ng Damages
ln Consumer cases, Lhere are some common problems assocl aLed wlLh collecLlng damages.
Inso|vency or 8ankruptcy of the Se||er
A buyer can sue a bankrupL seller, buL unless Lhe seller has already been pald for servlces, Lhe buyer ls
low on Lhe LoLem pole of collecLors from Lhe seller. lor Lhls reason, flllng a small clalm ls ofLen fuLlle.
136



134
l1c locts fot coosomets. 5bopploq by lbooe ot Moll, lederal 1rade Commlsslon webslLe.
133
M.C.L. c. 106, 2-602
136
M.C.L. 106, 2-302
61

Inso|vency or 8ankruptcy of the 8uyer
A seller may refuse Lo sell goods Lo a bankrupL or lnsolvenL buyer (excepL wlLh cash paymenL). lf a
bankrupL consumer does noL pay for goods recelved, a seller may reclalm Lhe goods wlLhln 10 days of
Lhe recelpL. (1hls ls sub[ecL Lo Lhe rlghLs of Lhe buyer ln Lhe usual course of exchange. lL ls besL Lo glve a
consumer Llme Lo pay for a purchase.)
137

Death
Cne may sue Lhe sLaLe, buL deaLh ls ofLen a good enough excuse for Lhe [udge Lo end a debL.



















137
M.C.L. c. 106, 2-702
62

Chapter 6
Auto Law
AuLomoblle Law encompasses Lhree maln laws LhaL apply when an lndlvldual purchases elLher a new or
used car, and Lhen dlscovers, soon afLer purchaslng lL, LhaL lL ls defecLlve ln way. 1he Lhree laws are Lhe
Mossocbosetts lemoo low, 1be lemoo AlJ low, and 1be useJ veblcle wottooty low.
Massachusetts Lemon Law
138

1hls law ls lnLended Lo proLecL persons who buy new moLor vehlcles wlLh subsLanLlal defecLs. lL requlres
Lhe dealer Lo repalr any such defecLs and demands a refund, lf, afLer a reasonable number of repalr
aLLempLs, Lhe defecL perslsLs.
Any new car, moLorcycle, van or Lruck boughL ln MassachuseLLs from a new-car dealer for personal or
famlly purposes ls covered by Lhe Lemon Law for Lhe "Lerm of proLecLlon" of one year or 13,000 mlles of
use from Lhe daLe of orlglnal dellvery, whlchever comes flrsL. ln Lhe case of a replacemenL vehlcle
provlded by a manufacLurer Lo a consumer under Lhls secLlon, one year or flfLeen Lhousand mlles from
Lhe daLe of dellvery Lo Lhe consumer of sald replacemenL vehlcle, whlchever comes flrsL.
139

1he law deflnes a "Lemon" as a new moLor vehlcle LhaL has defecL(s) LhaL subsLanLlally lmpalr Lhe use,
markeL value, or safeLy of Lhe vehlcle and has noL been repalred afLer a reasonable number of
aLLempLs.
160

keasonab|e Number of Attempts
1he Lemon Law deflnes a reasonable number of repalr aLLempLs as:
8epalr ls aLLempLed 3 or more Llmes for Lhe same subsLanLlal defecL, and Lhe problem perslsLs or recurs
wlLhln Lhe Lerm of proLecLlon.
C8
8epalr aLLempLs for any subsLanLlal defecL or comblnaLlon of defecLs LoLal 13 or more buslness days, noL
necessarlly all aL one Llme.
161



138
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/2 (1)
139
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/2(1)
160
M.C.L. c.90, 7n 1/2 (1)
161
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/2 (4b)
63

If a Defect ers|sts
lf a defecL sLlll exlsLs afLer a reasonable number of repalr aLLempLs, Lhe consumer musL do Lhe followlng:
CranL Lhe manufacLurer (noL Lhe dealer) one flnal opporLunlLy of an addlLlonal )"<"$ buslness days Lo flx
any subsLanLlal defecL. A noLlflcaLlon of Lhls flnal opporLunlLy should be senL Lo Lhe manufacLurer/dealer
by boLh cerLlfled mall and regular mall. 8e sure Lo send lL Lo Lhe manufacLurer's reglonal and/or
corporaLe offlce (or boLh).
162
?ou may geL Lhls address from Lhe Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs and 8uslness
8egulaLlon, (617) 727-7780.
AfLer Lhe 7 buslness days, lf Lhe defecL has noL been repalred (or has been repalred and Lhe problem
recurs), Lhe consumer may reLurn Lhe vehlcle Lo Lhe manufacLurer and demand elLher a refund or a
replacemenL. A consumer has a rlghL Lo re[ecL Lhe offer of a replacemenL vehlcle and demand a refund,
buL does noL have Lhe rlghL Lo demand a replacemenL vehlcle lf offered a refund.
163

Not Covered by the New Car Lemon Law
vehlcles nC1 covered by Lhe new Car Lemon Law lnclude:
164

auLo homes
vehlcles used prlmarlly for off-road use (e.g. dlrL blkes)
vehlcles used prlmarlly for buslness purposes
lallure Lo comply wlLh Lhe Lemon Law ls an unfalr and decepLlve acL under Lhe MassachuseLLs Consumer
roLecLlon AcL, c. 93A, whlch may enLlLle you Lo double or Lreble damages, plus courL cosLs and
reasonable aLLorney's fees. 1he buyer musL begln by sendlng Lhe manufacLurer a 30-day demand
leLLer.
163


1he Lemon A|d Law
166

1hls law ls lnLended Lo proLecL persons who have purchased vehlcles LhaL fall Lhe sLaLe safeLy or
emlsslons LesL. 1hls law allows for a cancellaLlon for Lhe sales conLracL and a refund. lL applles Lo prlvaLe
parLy sellers, as well as dealers. 1he Lemon Ald Law covers all moLor vehlcles purchased for lmmedlaLe
personal or famlly use, new or used.


162
M.C.L. c. 90, 90, 7n 1/2 (4b)
163
Attotoey Ceoetol's ColJe to 8oyloq ot leosloq o cot, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce WebslLe.
164
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n (1/2) (1)
163
A Mossocbosetts coosomet ColJe to New & leoseJ cot lemoo low, Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs and 8uslness
8egulaLlon
166
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n
64

What |s a Lemon Under 1h|s Law?
ln order for a car Lo be covered under Lhe Lemon Ald Law, Lhe ca r musL meeL Lwo requlremenLs:
167

1. 1he vehlcle musL fall Lo pass Lhe sLaLe safeLy and/or emlsslons LesL wlLhln 7 days of Lhe daLe of
sale. 1he fallure cannoL be caused by your negllgence or abuse or by an accldenL LhaL occurred
afLer Lhe daLe of sale.
2. 1he esLlmaLed cosL of repalr of safeLy and/or emlsslons -relaLed defecLs musL exceed 10 of Lhe
purchase prlce of Lhe vehlcle.
Comp|y|ng w|th the Lemon A|d Law
1he Lemon-Ald Law requlres LhaL a number of Lhlngs be done wlLhln a very shorL Llme of purchaslng Lhe
vehlcle, so lL ls lmporLanL LhaL callers wlLh auLomoblle cases be lmmedlaLely called back and asslsLed
wlLh Lhelr problems. lf a case falls under Lhe caLegory of Lhe Lemon Ald Law, Lhe buyer musL:
168

1. CeL a wrlLLen sLaLemenL slgned by an auLhorlzed agenL aL an l nspecLlon sLaLlon, sLaLlng Lhe
reasons why Lhe vehlcle falled Lo pass Lhe safeLy (or comblned safeLy and emlsslons) LesL. 1hls
safeLy LesL musL have been conducLed wlLhln 7 days of Lhe sale.
2. CbLaln a wrlLLen esLlmaLe from Lhe lnspecLor of Lhe cosLs of Lhe necessary emlsslons or safeLy-
relaLed repalrs, showlng LhaL Lhese coLs exceed 10 of Lhe purchase prlce.
3. noLlfy Lhe seller of hls/her lnLenLlon Lo vold Lhe conLracL under Lhe Lerms of Lhe Lemon Ald Law,
and do so by boLh regular mall and cerLlfled mall (reLurn recelpL requesLed). 1he buyer should
enclose a copy of Lhe wrlLLen sLaLemenL and a copy of Lhe wrlLLen esLlmaLe LhaL he/she
collecLed ln sLeps 1 & 2.
4. uellver Lhe moLor vehlcle Lo Lhe seller, even lf lL musL be Lowed. 8rlng a wlLness, coples of (1)
Lhe noLlflcaLlon leLLer, (2) Lhe re[ecLlon sLaLemenL, and (3) Lhe esLlmaLe. lf Lhe seller refuses Lo
accepL Lhe car, Lhe consumer should slgn a sLaLemenL wlLh a wlLness before a noLary afflrmlng
LhaL Lhe consumer dld dellver Lhe car Lo Lhe seller on LhaL daLe, buL Lhe seller refused Lo accepL
Lhe car.
ALL S1LS MUS1 8L CCMLL1LD WI1nIN 14 DAS CI 1nL SALL.
lf Lhe above sLeps are Laken wlLhln 14 days of Lhe daLe of sale, Lhen Lhe consumer ls enLlLled Lo:
169

1. Cancel Lhe conLracL LhaL he/she slgned for Lhe car or moLorcycle sale
2. CbLaln a refund from Lhe dealer/prlvaLe parLy who sold Lhe moLor vehlcle Lo hlm/her.



167
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n
168
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n
169
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n
63

Add|t|ona| Informat|on
lnspecLlon sLlckers from prevlous owners are not Lransferable Lo new owners. 1hls means LhaL
consumers who purchase used cars should always have Lhe chalr lnspecLed wlLhln 7 days of lLs purchase,
even lf Lhe lnspecLlon sLlcker on Lhe wlndshleld ls sLlll valld. lf Lhe car falls Lhe lnspecLlon LesL and repalrs
are esLlmaLed aL greaLer Lhan 10 of Lhe purchase prlce, Lhen Lhls law wlll cover Lhem.
170

Cars LhaL do noL run are consldered Lo have fa||ed |nspect|on automat|ca||y (no wrlLLen sLaLemenL
necessary). Powever, Lhe owner musL sLlll prove LhaL damages relaLed Lo safeLy or emlsslon defecLs
LoLal more Lhan 10 of Lhe purchase prlce.
171

ln order Lo quallfy for any refund, Lhe damages relaLed Lo safeLy or emlsslon defecLs musL LoLal more
Lhan 10 of Lhe purchase prlce. 8uyers are not ellglble for parLlal refunds lf Lhe defecLs LoLal less Lhan
10 of Lhe purchase prlce.
1he Used Veh|c|e Warranty Law
1hls law ls lnLended Lo proLecL persons who have purchased used cars. lL requlres LhaL such person
recelve a wrlLLen warranLy from dealers for a guaranLeed perlod of Llme, as deLermlned by Lhe mlleage
of Lhe car. Whlle Lhls law ls helpful for used cars, lL ls recommended Lo use Lhe Lemon Ald Law when
posslble slnce lL Lyplcally ls qulcker Lhan Lhe used vehlcle WarranLy Law. rlvaLe parLy sellers are also
requlred Lo dlsclose any known defecLs under Lhls law. 1he buyer ls enLlLled Lo a refund ln such a case.
AuLomoblle uealers (deflned as anyone who sells 4 or more cars ln a 12 monLh perlod),
172
are requlred
Lo do Lhe followlng when selllng used cars:
(1) rovlde a wrlLLen warranLy Lo consumers, sLaLlng LhaL Lhe auLomoblle ls under warranLy for a cerLaln
number of days/mlls (dependlng on Lhe mlleage of Lhe car aL Lhe Llme of purchase). 1he warranLy perlod
beglns when Lhe car ls plcked up from Lhe dealer by Lhe consumer. 1hese requlred warranLy perlods are:


170
A Mossocbosetts coosome ColJe to lemoo AlJ low, Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs and 8uslness 8egulaLlon, 2001
171
A Mossocbosetts coosome ColJe to lemoo AlJ low, Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs and 8uslness 8egulaLlon, 2001
172
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (1)
66

(2) 8epalr defecLs LhaL lmpalr Lhe use or safeLy of Lhe vehlcle for as long as Lhe vehlcle ls under Lhe
requlred warranLy.
(3) 1he dealer musL lncur any and all cosLs assoclaLed wlLh repalrlng Lhe vehlcle durlng Lhe warranLy
perlod, buL may legally requlre Lhe consumer Lo pay up Lo $100 Loward Lhe LoLal cosL of all repalrs (l.e.
Lhe consumer can be asked Lo pay, aL mosL, $100 durlng Lhe warranLy perlod. 1he dealer musL pay Lhe
resL.)
173

lf Lhe used moLor vehlcle's Lrue mlleage ls noL known, Lhe warranLy perlod wlll be deLermlned by Lhe age
of Lhe used vehlcle:

1he vehlcle's age wlll be deLermlned by subLracLlng Lhe model year from Lhe year ln whlch Lhe warranLy
holder purchased Lhe vehlcle.
Car dealers cannoL ask consumers Lo glve up Lhelr rlghLs under Lhe used vehlcle WarranLy Law. Some
may Lry Lo do so, however, Lhls ls lllegal, and even consumers who belleve LhaL Lhey have "slgned away"
Lhelr rlghLs under Lhls law are sLlll covered.
AlLhough a dealer musL repalr all defecLs for Lhe duraLlon of Lhe warranLy perlod, Lhere may be
lnsLances where Lhe necessary repalrs are so exLenslve and Llme consumlng LhaL Lhe cusLomer ls noL
really geLLlng hls money's worLh. As long as Lhe car ls sLlll under warranLy, a cusLomer has Lhe rlghL Lo a
refund (deducLlng 13 cenLs per mlle drlven by Lhe consumer slnce Lhe purcha se of Lhe vehlcle) lf:
174

1. 1he perslsLlng defecL(s) lmpalr Lhe vehlcle's use and/or safeLy AND
2. 1he vehlcle was repalred 3 Llmes for Lhe same defecL, and LhaL defecL perslsLs or recur s wlLhln
Lhe warranLy perlod Ck lf Lhe vehlcle was ouL of servlce by reason of repalr for more Lhan 10
buslness days (noL necessarlly all aL one Llme) wlLhln Lhe warranLy perlod. 1he repalrs need noL
be for Lhe same defecL = 3 days for repalrlng Lhe brakes plus 6 for changlng Lhe Lransmlsslon
counLs.
1he dealer may repurchase Lhe vehlcle wlLhouL maklng repalrs.

173
A Mossocbosetts coosomet ColJe to useJ veblcle wottooty low, Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs and 8uslness
8egulaLlon, 2001
174
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (3A) (ll)</
67


IMCk1AN1: If the dea|er offers you a fu|| refund under the |aw, and you refuse to accept |t, CU
WILL NC1 8L LN1I1LLD 1C IUk1nLk WAkkAN1 kLAIkS UNDLk 1nL WkI11LN WAkkAN1
kCVIDLD 8 1nL DLALLk. If you do not agree w|th the dea|er's ca|cu|at|on of the repurchase
amount, you can ask the Cff|ce of Consumer Affa|rs and 8us|ness kegu|at|on (CCA8k) to he|p ca|cu|ate
|t: 617-973-8787. If the CCA8k determ|nes that the fu|| repurchase amount |s h|gher than the amount
offered by the dea|er, the dea|er may e|ther offer you the amount determ|ned by the CCA8k or
w|thdraw the offer to repurchase. If the dea|er w|thdraws the offer, you w||| st||| be ent|t|ed to
warranty repa|rs and can app|y for arb|trat|on, |f you qua||fy.
r|vate Se||ers
1he used vehlcle WarranLy Law requlres prlvaLe parLy sellers Lo Lell buyers abouL all known defecLs
before Lhe buyer purchases Lhe vehlcle. lallure Lo do so wlll enLlLle Lhe buyer, wlLhln 30 days afLer Lhe
sale, Lo resclnd Lhe sale and be enLlLled Lhe reLurn of all money pald (wlLh a deducLlon of 13 cenLs per
mlle drlven by Lhe consumer slnce Lhe purchase of Lhe vehlcle).
173

lf Lhe buyer dlscovers a defecL(s) LhaL lmpalrs Lhe safeLy of Lhe vehlcle or LhaL subsLanLlally lmpalrs lLs
use and can show LhaL Lhe seller knew abouL lL and dld noL dlsclose lL, Lhe consumer may cancel Lhe sale
wlLhln 30 days of Lhe purchase. 1he seller musL refund Lhe amounL pald, deducLlng 13 cenLs per mlle of
use.
176

lL ls lmporLanL Lo noLe LhaL noL all used vehlcles are covered by Lhls law. 1here are some excepLlons Lo
Lhe law. lf a vehlcle meeLs any of Lhe followlng condlLlons:
CosLs less Lhan $700
177
<ref>M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (7)</ref>
Pas more Lhan 123,000 mlles on Lhe odomeLer when sold
ls a moLorcycle, a moped, a dlrL-blke, an auLo home, or an off-road vehlcle
178

ls a leased vehlcle
179

ls a vehlcle used prlmarlly for buslness purposes
180

...Lhen lL wlll noL be covered by Lhe used vehlcle WarranLy Law. Such vehlcles are, however, sLlll
covered by an lmplled warranLy of merchanLablllLy
181
under whlch a producL musL do whaL lL ls
deslgned Lo do wlLh reasonable safeLy and ease for a reasonable amounL of Llme.
182
8easonable

173
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (8)
176
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (8)
177
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (7)
178
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (1)
179
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (12)
180
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (1)</
181
unlform Commerclal Code, M.C.L. ChapLer 106, 2-314
182
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (9)
68

Llme wlll Lake lnLo accounL Lhe age of Lhe vehlcle, mlleage on Lhe vehlcle, prlce pald, and oLher
facLors.
183

Arb|trat|on
Manufacturer Sponsored Arb|trat|on
Many vehlcle manufacLurers offer Lhelr own ln-house medlaLlon, wlLh manufacLurers' represenLaLlves
and lndependenL consumer advocaLes on Lhe revlewlng panels. ManufacLurers' "zone represenLaLlves"
wlll lnvesLlgaLe problems l n an efforL Lo resolve Lhem. 1o access Lhese programs, Lhe cllenL should
conLacL Lhe speclflc manufacLurer's zone or reglonal offlce for deLalls. ManufacLurer's arblLraLlon ls noL
requlred Lo comply wlLh Lhe Lemon Law sLandards concernlng repalrs, Llmlng, or refund or replacemenL.
1herefore, ln manufacLurer-sponsored arblLraLlon, Lhe manufacLurer may propose a resoluLlon LhaL ls
dlfferenL from Lhe resoluLlon Lhe Lemon Law would provlde. lor example Lhe manufacLurer may offer Lo
make addlLlonal repalrs, exLend Lhe manufacLurer's warranLy on Lhe vehlcle, or replace Lhe vehlcle wlLh
a dlfferenL model.
184

8etter 8us|ness 8ureau
1he 8eLLer 8uslness 8ureau (888) offers a "888 AuLo Llne" arblLraLlon program for mosL vehlcles. Many
manufacLurers, such as Audl, 8MW, Ll ncoln, Mercedes, and 1oyoLa, use Lhe 888 as Lhelr sponsored
arblLraLlon program. 888 arblLraLlon ls noL requlred Lo comply wlLh Lhe Lemon Law sLandards. As ln
manufacLurer sponsored arblLraLlon, 888 arblLraLlon may propose a resoluLlon LhaL ls dlfferenL fr om Lhe
resoluLlon Lhe Lemon Law would provlde. lL ls also free and blndlng only on Lhe manufacLurer lf Lhe
consumer accepLs Lhe declslon. 1o flle wlLh Lhe 8eLLer 8uslness 8ureau's Au1C-LlnL arblLraLlon, Lhe
cllenL can call 1-800-933-3100 or flle an onllne requesL form aL hLLp://www.lemonlaw.bbb.org/
State-cert|f|ed Arb|trat|on
SLaLe-cerLlfled arblLraLlon ls a very popular way of resolvlng dlspuLes LhaL arlse under Lhe above laws.
1he Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs ls Lhe sLaLe agency LhaL operaLes Lhe sLaLe-cerLlfled Lemon Law
ArblLraLlon rogram. lf Lhe buyer and seller of Lhe car are havlng Lrouble comlng Lo Lerms on Lhe car
under Lhe Lemon Law, Lhe Lemon Ald Law, or Lhe used vehlcle WarranLy Law, Lhey may go Lo sLaLe - or
courL-sponsored arblLraLlon lnsLead of golng Lo courL.
183186
Lemon Law arblLraLlon ls deslgned Lo be a
speedy means of resolvlng auLo dlspuLes, and slnce mosL cars cosL more Lhan Lhe small clalms moneLary
llmlL of $7,000, arblLraLlon may be a beLLer opLlon for many people Lhan brlnglng a sulL Lo ulsLrlcL or
Superlor courL. Lemon Law arblLraLlon ls governed by Lhe same rules as all oLher Lypes of arblLraLlon.

183
Attotoey Ceoetol's ColJe to 8oyloq ot leosloq o cot, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce WebslLe.
184
Attotoey Ceoetol's ColJe to 8oyloq ot leosloq o cot, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce WebslLe.
183
M.C.L. c. 90, 7n 1/4 (3A)
186
201 CM8 11.00
69


1o quallfy for Lhls arblLraLlon program, Lhe cllenL musL have done everyLhlng LhaL ls sLaLed ln Lhe lemon
laws, lncludlng, for new cars, glvl ng Lhe manufacLurer a flnal opporLunlLy Lo repalr Lhe defecL. lf Lhe
vehlcle conLlnues Lo have Lhe same defecL followlng Lhe flnal repalr aLLempL, or lL recurs durlng Lhe
perlod LhaL Lhe Lemon Law applles, you may apply for Lemon Law arblLraLlon.
New Car Lemon Law
1o be accepLed for new car arblLraLlon, Lhe requesL for arblLraLlon musL be submlLLed on Lhe deslgnaLed
form and recelved by Lhe arblLraLlon flrm or CCA88 wlLhln 18 monLhs of Lhe daLe LhaL Lhe owner Look
possesslon of Lhe car.
187


Used Veh|c|e Warranty Law
1o be accepLed for used car arblLraLlon, requesLs for arblLraLlon musL be submlLLed wlLhln 6 monLhs of
Lhe daLe LhaL Lhe consumer Look possesslon of Lhe moLor vehlcle (for used cars).
188

?ou musL apply for arblLraLlon on Lhe offlclal form provlded by Lhe Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs. ?ou may
go Lo sLaLe-cerLlfled arblLraLlon even lf you have prevlously gone Lo 888 or manufacLurer arblLraLlon, buL
noL lf you have prevlously gone Lo courL. 1he arblLraLlon hearlng musL generally be held wlLhln 44 days
of Lhe recelpL of Lhe requesL for arblLraLlon, and Lhe arblLraLor musL lssue a declslon wlLhln 43 days of
Lhe hearlng. 1he manufacLurer musL elLher comply wlLh Lhe arblLraLor's order or flle an appeal wlLhln 21
days of Lhe arblLraLor's declslon.
189
1here ls no fee for Lhls arblLraLlon.
llllng a clalm ls, of course, anoLher way of resolvlng Lhese dlspuLes. 8emember, Lhough, Lhe llmlL ln
small clalms courL ls $7,000. Cases ln whlch Lhe plalnLlff hopes Lo reap more Lhan $7,000 musL be flled
Lhrough regular, clvll courL, and wlll requlre Lhe asslsLance of an aLLorney.
Auto kepa|r
?ou Lake your car Lo Lhe repalr shop for a yearly Lune-up, and when you go Lo plck up your car, you're
lnformed by Lhe mechanlc LhaL you need new brakes, an allgnmenL, and a palnL [ob, none of whlch you
expecLed and all of whlch wlll cosL you abouL $1,300. Sounds famlllar? Well, MassachuseLLs law proLecLs
lndlvlduals from unfalr LreaLmenL aL Lhe hands of auLo mechanlcs. lallure of auLo mechanlcs Lo comply
wlLh Lhese laws quallfles as unfalr or decepLlve pracLlces or acLs. 1he laws applylng MA are:


187
201 CM8 11.00 (2a)
188
201 CM8 11.00 (3a)
189
Attotoey Ceoetol's ColJe to 8oyloq ot leosloq o cot, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce webslLe
70

Untrue Statements
A repalr shop may noL make any sLaLemenLs whlch lL knows Lo be unLrue, such as calllng for unnecessary
repalrs, clalmlng Lhe consumer's car ls ln a dangerous condlLlon when lL ls noL, or Lelllng Lhe consumer
repalrs have been done when Lhey have noL.
190

kecord Informat|on
8epalr shops musL record lnformaLlon abouL Lhe cusLomer and Lhe car before beglnnlng any work,
lncludlng name, address, Lelephone number, Lhe car's makes, year, regl sLraLlon number, odomeLer
readlng, and Lhe speclflc repalrs requesLed or brlef descrlpLlon of Lhe problem Lo be flxed.
191

Wr|tten Lst|mates for A|| kepa|rs
A wrlLLen esLlmaLe musL be supplled by an auLo repalr shop and approved by Lhe cusLomer prlor Lo
repalrs. lf Lhere ls a charge for Lhe esLlmaLe, Lhe dealer musL lnform Lhe cusLomer of Lhls charge prlor Lo
Lhe verbal or wrlLLen agreemenL auLhorlzlng repalr, unless Lhls charge ls posLed consplcuously. 1hls law
does noL hold lf Lhe consumer broughL hls or her moLor vehlcle Lo Lhe repalr shop before or afLer lLs
usual buslness hours, or, aL Lhe cusLomer's requesL, repalr servlces are done off Lhe premlses of Lhe
repalr shop.
192

193

C|d arts
1he cusLomer ls enLlLled Lo any old parLs LhaL are replaced (l.e. lf a muffler ls replaced, Lhe mechanlc
musL acLually glve Lhe old muffler Lo Lhe cusLomer, afLer whlch Lhe cusLomer can do whaL he chooses
wlLh lL (lncludlng glvlng lL back Lo Lhe mechanlc).
194

Improper or Shoddy kepa|r Work
1he repalr shop musL correcL any lmproper or shoddy repalr work aL no addlLlonal cosL Lo Lhe
consumer.
193

kepa|r Durat|on
A repalr shop musL compleLe work on a car Lhe same day lL ls dellvered unless Lhe cusLomer ls noLlfled
Lo Lhe conLrary and consenLs Lo Lhls delay.
196


190
940 CM8 3.03 (1)
191
940 CM8 3.03 (2)
192
940 CM8 3.03 (3)
193
940 CM8 3.03 (4)
194
940 CM8 3.03 (4)
193
940 CM8 3.03 (8)
196
940 CM8 3.03 (6)
71

Storage Costs
A repalr shop can only charge sLorage cosLs for a vehlcle lf Lhe consumer ls lnformed before Lhe charges
begln Lo accumulaLe or lf Lhere ls a slgn posLed consplcuously sLaLlng Lhe condlLlons under whlch sLorage
cosLs wlll be charged.
197

Use of Customer's Car
A repalr shop may noL use a cusLomer's car for any purpose oLher Lhan a LesL drlve or dellvery unless Lhe
cusLomer consenLs ln advance.
198

Item|zed 8|||
1he repalr shop musL provlde an lLemlzed blll upon compleLlon of Lhe work.
199

lf any of Lhe above laws regardlng auLo repalr has been vlolaLed by a repalr shop, and Lhe consumer
wlshes Lo Lake legal acLlon, he/she musL flrsL wrlLe a 30-day demand leLLer Lo Lhe repalr shop because lL
wlll fall under ChapLer 93A of Consumer Law.
200
A dlssaLlsfled cusLomer may also wlsh Lo flle a complalnL
wlLh Lhe 8eLLer 8uslness 8ureau by calllng (308) 632-4800.
Auto Acc|dents
1here are Lwo posslble clalms LhaL can arlse ouL of auLo accldenLs:
roperty Damage]Damage to Veh|c|e- as a resulL of an auLo accldenL, an lndlvldual's vehlcle
was elLher "LoLaled" or susLalned damages LhaL needed repalr 08 oLher properLy was damaged
as a resulL of Lhe accldenL
ersona| In[ury - as a resulL of an auLo accldenL, an lndlvldual susLalned bodlly ln[ury LhaL forced
hlm/her Lo recelve medlcal aLLenLlon or mlss aL leasL a day of work, for example
ln boLh cases, Lhe reglsLered owner of Lhe vehlcle drlven by Lhe drlver causlng Lhe accldenL (l.e. Lhe
drlver who was deLermlned Lo be aL faulL elLher by Lhe pollce offlcer who wroLe Lhe accldenL reporL or lf
no accldenL reporL was wrlLLen, by Lhe clerk maglsLraLe afLer llsLenlng Lo boLh parLles aL Lhe small clalms
hearlng), can be sued ln small clalms courL.
201

1he moneLary llmlL for Lhese Lypes of cases, however, dlffers.
roperty Damage]Damage to Veh|c|e - Lhere ls no moneLary llmlL for properLy damage caused
by anoLher vehlcle. lalnLlffs may sue for as much as Lhe damaged vehlcle was worLh aL Lhe Llme

197
940 CM8 3.03 (4)
198
940 CM8 3.03(12)
199
940 CM8 3.03 (9)
200
M.C.L. c. 93A, 2
201
M.C.L. c. 231, 83A
72

of Lhe accldenL (l.e. lLs falr markeL value) or Lhe cosL of accldenL-relaLed repalrs. 1hls ls Lhe only
excepLlon (oLher Lhan double and Lreble damages) Lo Lhe $7,000 moneLary llmlL ln MA Small
Clalms CourL.
202

ersona| In[ury - Lhe ordlnary $7,000 llmlL applles Lo Lhese cases. CfLen Llmes Lhe sum of all
docLor's bllls and losL wages wlll be greaLer Lhan Lhls $7,000 llmlL. lf Lhls ls Lhe case, and Lhe
plalnLlff wlshes Lo sue for Lhe enLlre amounL ln addlLlon Lo paln and sufferlng, he/she musL flle a
clvll sulL, usually wlLh Lhe help of an aLLorney.
203





















202
M.C.L. c. 218, 21
203
M.C.L. c. 231, 6u
73

Chapter 7
ersona| D|sputes
ersonal ulspuLes are legal confll cLs LhaL arlse LhaL do noL clearly flL Lhe oLher chapLers. 1hese dlspuLes
Lyplcally arlse from slLuaLlons ln whlch a person feels unfalrly wronged by anoLher and looks Lo remedy
Lhe slLuaLlon Lhrough medlaLlon, arblLraLlon, or flllng a small clalm. We have puL Lhese cases lnLo Lhe
caLegory of "personal dlspuLes." Lxamples LhaL may fall under Lhls headlng are:
A dry cleaner rulns your cloLhlng, drapes, eLc.
?ou are aLLacked and blLLen by your nelghbor's plL bull.
1he famlly across Lhe sLreeL has Leenage chlldren who regularly Lhrow very loud parLles LhaL
subsLanLlally dlsLurb your peace and quleL.
?ou were LreaLed rudely, perhaps Lo Lhe polnL of harassmenL, by a company represenLaLlve.
?ou were glven a black eye by an angry llLLle league parenL when you, as L he coach, falled Lo puL
hls son ln as a plnch hlLLer
Cases such as Lhese, whlle varlanL, wlll Lyplcally follow a slmple legal prlnclple: one person suffered an
ln[ury (elLher personal or flnanclal) LhaL resulLed ln a moneLary loss, and somebody else was dl recLly
responslble for Lhls ln[ury. 1here are several legal prlnclples on whlch a personal dlspuLe can be based
on.
Neg||gence
negllgence, ln shorL, amounLs Lo carelessness. Legally, negllgence ls roughly deflned as Lhe fallure of a
person or persons Lo Lake precauLlons Lo prevenL Lhe occurrence of reasonab|y foreseeab|e
consequences LhaL may resulL from a dangerous condlLlon on Lhelr properLy, or under Lhelr supervlslon,
glven LhaL Lhe person was aware of the dangerous cond|t|ons and had amp|e t|me to correct |t, yeL dld
noL.
204
ln Lhe case of Lhe nelghbor's aggresslve plL bull, a plalnLlff who was blLLen by Lhe dog (and Lhus
suffered some degree of moneLary loss, be lL Llme off from work, docLor's bllls, eLc.) would have Lo
show:
1. 1haL Lhe nelghbors were aware of Lhe facL LhaL Lhe plL bull was dangerous (perhaps because Lhe
plalnLlff Lold Lhem or because aggresslveness ls common among plL bulls) and had ample Llme Lo
do someLhlng Lo allevlaLe Lhe problem.
2. 1haL Lhey noneLheless dld noL Lake reasonable precauLlons Lo avold aLLacks on nelghbors (such
as bulldlng a fence, Lylng lL Lo a sLrong leash, or waLchlng over lL).
3. 1haL, because of Lhelr negllgence, a reasonably foreseeable consequence of keeplng an
unresLralned plL bull (l.e. a blLLen nelghbor) occurred.

204
Neqllqeoce. low ulctloooty, Law.com onllne law dlcLlonary
74

usually, a plalnLlff wlll wanL Lo esLabllsh a prlma facle case of negllgence, whlch wlll shlfL Lhe burden of
proof Lo Lhe defendanL.
8a||ment
8allmenL ls Lhe legal Lerm for safekeeplng. 8allmenL cases are a speclflc klnd of negllgence case. Legally,
ballmenL occurs when one parLy enLrusLs a plece of lLs properLy Lo anoLher parLy, under Lhe assumpLlon
LhaL Lhls plece of properLy wlll be reLurned ln at |east as good as a cond|t|on as when |t was
surrendered
20S
. 1he plece of properLy may be handed over elLher for safekeeplng or for Lhe
performance of a parLlcular servlce (e.g. Lallorlng). lf Lhe lLem(s) are noL reLurned ln good condlLlon or
are noL reLurned aL all, one may aLLempL Lo geL compensaLlon Lhrough small clalms courL. ln Lhe case of
a plalnLlff whose new sllk shlrL was rulned by a dry-cleaner, Lhe plalnLlff would wanL Lo esLabllsh a prlma
facle case of negllgence by showlng:
1. 1haL Lhe dry-cleaner wllllngly accepLed Lhe shlrL for dry-cleanlng. A dry cleanlng LlckeL could
serve as evldence for Lhe dry cleaner's wllllng accepLance of Lhe shlrL.
2. 1haL Lhe shlrL was ln saLlsfacLory condlLlon when lL was glven over Lo Lhe dry-cleaner. lf Lhe shlrL
had a sLaln on lL, and was reLurned wlLh Lhe same sLaln, Lhen lL was Lechnlcally reLurned ln Lhe
same "saLlsfacLory condlLlon" ln whlch lL was glven Lo Lhe dry-cleaner. ln Lhls case, a person
cannoL sue for negllgence, as Lhe dry cleaner dld noL do addlLlonal harm Lo Lhe shlrL. A dry -
cleanlng sLub (LhaL lndlcaLes Lhe condlLlon of Lhe lLem when lL was dropped off) or a wlLness
may help Lo esLabllsh Lhe prlor condlLlon of Lhe lLem.
3. 1haL Lhe shlrL was reLurned ln a damaged condlLlon (or noL reLurned aL all). 1he besL evldence ls
Lhe acLual lLem LhaL was damaged.
206

lf a plalnLlff can show LhaL hls or her goods were damaged ln Lhe defendanL's possesslon, Lhen Lhe
burden of proof shlfLs Lo Lhe defendanL Lo show LhaL he or she dld Lake proper or adequaLe care of your
possesslons.
lf Lhe baller (Lhe person who was ln possesslon of Lhe plalnLlff's goods) dld noL knowlngly accepL
responslblllLy for Lhe lLems, Lhen Lhe plalnLlff ls noL llkely Lo wln a sulL agalnsL Lhe baller. lor lnsLance, lf
you mlsLakenly leave your purse ln a resLauranL, and flnd $40 mlsslng from your walleL when you
reLrleve Lhe purse, you cannoL sue Lhe resLauranL for negllgence, as lL never acLually "accepLed" your
properLy and promlsed lL safekeeplng. 1hls Lype of ballmenL ls called consLrucLlve ballmenL, and llablllLy
ls ofLen dlfflculL Lo prove. lf, ln conLrasL, you gave your purse Lo a coaL -checker ln a resLauranL and lL was
reLurned Lo you wlLh $40 mlsslng from your walleL, llablllLy ls easler Lo prove - Lhls Lype of ballmenL ls
called acLlve ballmenL.
207



203
8ollmeot low ooJ leqol uefloltloo, uSLegallorms.com
206
losotooce ooJ tbe leqol ltocess, a 8esLed.com SLudy Culde
207
8ollmeot. low ulctloooty, Law.com onllne law dlcLlonary.
73

Nu|sance
A nulsance ls creaLed when one parLy lnLenLlonally engages ln acLlons lnLended Lo harass or dlsLurb
anoLher, and Lhls dlsLurbance causes Lhe harassed parLy physlcal (and/or menLal) losses.
208
An "lllegal
dunner" (who calls Lo requesL paymenL of a debL more ofLen Lhan Lhe laws allow), a nelghbor who
Lhrows exLraordlnarlly loud parLles every weekend or a "sLa lker" who leaves a plalnLlff noLes and phone
messages LwenLy Llmes dally, may be creaLlng a nulsance, and could be sued ln small clalms courL
(alLhough, ln Lhe case of a sLalker, a cllenL may wlsh Lo seek addlLlonal legal resLralnL agalnsL Lhls
person). A plalnLlff ln a nulsance case would have Lo show:
1. 1haL Lhe acLlons of Lhe oLher parLy were dellberaLe and done wlLh an lnLenLlon Lo harass. 1hls
means a nelghbor's smelly garbage (LhaL slLs ouLslde a plalnLlff's bedroom wlndow) ls only a
nulsance lf Lhe nel ghbor ls aware LhaL he ls dlsLurblng Lhe plalnLlff and does noL correcL Lhe
problem.
2. 1haL Lhese acLlons have subsLanLlally dlmlnlshed hls day-Lo-day en[oymenL of llfe. Lxplalnlng
why Lhe acLlons drove Lhe plalnLlff Lo Lhe polnL of acLually flllng a small c lalm should do Lhe Lrlck.
3. 1haL Lhe acLlons of Lhe oLher parLy were unreasonable (l.e. Lhe beneflL Lo Lhe defendanL was
slgnlflcanLly less Lhan Lhe cosL/nulsance Lo Lhe plalnLlff).
4. 1haL Lhe plalnLlff suffered a moneLary loss as a resulL of Lhe defendanL's behavlor. 8emember, a
moneLary loss can someLlmes be alleged lf one undergoes severe menLal dlsLress.

Assau|t and 8attery
AssaulL, ln lLs legal sense, occurs when someone Lrles Lo physlcally harm you ln a way LhaL makes you
feel lmmedlaLely LhreaLened.
209
?ou do noL need Lo be acLually hlL Lo suffer an assaulL. 8aLLery occurs
when someone physlcally conLacLs you wlLh Lhe lnLenL Lo harm you.
210
olnLlng a gun aL you (assaulL)
and Lhen shooLlng you ln Lhe leg (baLLery), consLlLuLes an "assaulL and baLLery". AlLhough assaulL and
baLLery ls a crlmlnal offense, lL ls also a clvll wrong, and Lhus, lf Lhe damages susLalned are less Lhan
$7,000, a person can sue ln small clalms courL.
Intent|ona| Inf||ct|on of Menta| D|stress
lnLenLlonal lnfllcLlon of MenLal ulsLress ls a speclflc clalm agalnsL lnLenLlonal acLlons Lo lnfllcL exLreme
emoLlonal or menLal sLress. ln order Lo successfully brlng Lhls clalm, one musL prove:
1. 1he defendanL lnLenLlonally reckless or dangerous
2. 1he defendanL's acLlons were ouLrageous and exLreme

208
Nolsooce. low ulctloooty, Law.com onllne law dlcLlonary
209
Assoolt.low ulctloooty, nolo.com onllne law dlcLlonary.
210
8ottety. low ulctloooty, nolo.com onllne law dlcLlonary.
76

3. 1he defendanL's acLlons caused Lhe plalnLlff dlsLress
4. lalnLlff suffers severe emoLlonal dlsLress as a resulL of defendanL's conducL.
1he lnLenL of Lhe acL need noL be Lo brlng abouL emoLlonal dlsLress. A reckless dlsregard for Lhe
llkellhood of causlng emoLlonal dlsLress ls sufflclenL. lor example, lf a defendanL refused Lo lnform a
plalnLlff of Lhe whereabouLs of Lhe plalnLlff's chlld for several years, Lhough LhaL defendanL knew where
Lhe chlld was Lhe enLlre Llme, Lhe defendanL could be held llable for ll Lu even Lhough Lhe defendanL had
no lnLenL Lo cause dlsLress Lo Lhe plalnLlff.
1he conducL musL be helnous and beyond Lhe sLandards of clvlllzed decency or uLLerly lnLolerable ln a
clvlllzed socleLy. WheLher Lhe conducL ls lllegal does noL deLermlne wheLhe r lL meeLs Lhls sLandard.
LssenLlally, Lhe acLlvlLy musL make someone say "1haL's CuLrageous" for lL Lo quallfy. 1yplcally Lhls acL
musL also be done ln publlc, galn publlclLy, or be publlcly known.
1he emoLlonal dlsLress suffered by Lhe plalnLlffs musL be "severe." 1hls sLandard ls quanLlfled by Lhe
lnLenslLy, duraLlon, and any physlcal manlfesLaLlons of Lhe dlsLress. A lack of producLlvlLy or depresslon
documenLed by professlonal psychlaLrlsLs ls Lyplcally requlred here, alLhough acqualnLances' LesLlmony
abouL a change ln behavlor could be persuaslve. An example of an acL whlch mlghL form Lhe basls for a
clalm of lnLenLlonal lnfllcLlon of emoLlonal dlsLress would be sendlng a leLLer Lo an lndlvldual falsely
lnformlng Lhe person LhaL a close famlly member had been kllled ln an accldenL.
8reach of Contract
8reach of contract ls a legal cause of acLlon ln whlch a blndlng agreemenL or bargalned-for exchange ls
noL honored by one or more of Lhe parLles Lo Lhe conLracL by non-performance or lnLerference wlLh Lhe
oLher parLy's performance. lf Lhe parLy does noL fulflll hls conLracLual promlse, or has glven lnformaLlon
Lo Lhe oLher parLy LhaL he wlll noL perform hls duLy as menLloned ln Lhe conLracL or lf by hls acLlon and
conducL he seems Lo be unable Lo perform Lhe conLracL, he ls sald Lo breach Lhe conLracL.
1here are many dlfferenL Lypes of breaches of conLracL.
A m|nor breach ls a parLlal or lmmaLerlal breach of Lhe conLracL LhaL does noL acLually affecL Lhe enLlreLy
of Lhe conLracL. An example of Lhls would be Lhe requesL LhaL ln a plumblng [ob all plpes be green when
ln reallLy Lhe plumber lnsLalls blue. lf LhaL ls slmply a requesL ln Lhe conLracL, Lhen you are enLlLled Lo Lhe
dlfference ln Lhe cosL of whaL you asked for compared Lo whaL you goL. ln Lhe case of Lhe plpes, slnce
Lhe plpes are Lhe same cosL, you would noL be enLlLled Lo any money.
lf a speclflc requesL ls acLually a condlLlon Lo Lhe compleLlon of Lhe [ob, Lhen Lhls ls a mater|a| breach of
contract.
A maLerlal breach ls any fallure Lo perform LhaL permlLs Lhe oLher parLy Lo Lhe conLracL Lo elLher compel
performance, or collecL damages because of Lhe breach. lf Lhe conLracLor ln Lhe above example had
been lnsLrucLed Lo use copper plpes, and lnsLead used lron plpes whlch would noL lasL as long as Lhe
77

copper plpes would have, Lhe homeowner can recover Lhe cosL of acLually correcLlng Lhe breach - Laklng
ouL Lhe lron plpes and replaclng Lhem wlLh copper plpes.
A fundamenta| breach ls a breach so fundamenLal LhaL lL permlLs Lhe aggrleved parLy Lo LermlnaLe
performance of Lhe conLracL, ln addlLlon Lo enLlLllng LhaL parLy Lo sue for damages.
Cther 1erms
Assumpt|on of k|sk
A LacLlc someLlmes used by defendanLs Lo explaln why Lhey are noL llable for a plalnLlff's damages. lor
example, lf a skler breaks hls leg afLer geLLlng hls skl caughL ln a large chunk of lce on Lhe slopes, Lhen
sues Lhe skl resorL for negllgence (because Lhey dld noL keep Lhe slopes ln a safe condlLlon), Lhe skl
resorL may counLer LhaL Lhe skler Look on an assumpLlon of rlsk when he declded Lo go skllng, and Lhus
Lhey are noL Lo be held llable for Lhe ln[ury. Whlle Lhls argumenL may be persuaslve Lo a clerk
maglsLraLe, lL ls expllclLly dlscouraged by Lhe law ln cerLaln cases.
211

Consequent|a| Damages
1he amounL of any damages LhaL were susLalned by a plalnLlff as an lndlrecL resulL of Lhe acLlons of Lhe
defendanL.
212
lor example, lf a reckless drlver crashes lnLo a plalnLlff's car, causlng lL Lo requlre $1300
worLh of repalrs, he may also sue Lhe drlver for Lhe $300 he had a Lo spend on renLal car s as a resulL of
havlng hls own car ln Lhe shop.
Covenant of u|et Ln[oyment
A covenanL of quleL en[oymenL ls Lyplcally an agreemenL lncluded ln a lease agreemenL LhaL sLaLes LhaL
Lhe lndlvldual has Lhe ablllLy Lo llve ln a glven locaLlon wlLh relaLlve quleL. 1he covenanL of quleL
en[oymenL Lyplcally ls lncluded wlLh lndlvlduals who have some medlcal or psychologlcal reason for
requlrlng a quleL llvlng arrangemenL, buL anyone can have lL.
D|sc|a|mer of L|ab|||ty
A defendanL may clalm LhaL lL was made clear Lo Lhe plalnLlff (elLher on a recelpL, a slgn, a conLracL, a
coaL-check sLub, a dry-cleaner's sLub, eLc.) LhaL he was noL responslble should an lLem be losL or
damaged whlle Lhe lLem was ln hls cusLody. ln oLher words, Lhe plalnLlff knew LhaL Lhere was so me rlsk
lnvolved ln Lhe LransacLlon, and yeL agreed Lo lL anyway. ln some cases, Lhls wlll excuse Lhe defendanL
from llablllLy. Powever, lf Lhe dlsclalmer ls noL posLed consplcuously (l.e. ln a place where Lhe plalnLlff
would have been expecLed Lo see lL), or ls wrlLLen ln overly flne prlnL, Lhe dlsclalmer may be deemed

211
M.C.L. c. 231, 83
212
M.C.L. c. 106, 2-713
78

lnvalld. ln shorL, lf Lhe plalnLlff can prove LhaL he was made unaware of any dlsclalmer, he may succeed
ln convlnclng Lhe clerk maglsLraLe Lo rule ln hls favor.
r|ma Iac|e
lf a plalnLlff ls able Lo prove LhaL anoLher parLy Look on a duLy of care (l.e. a dry cleaner Look
responslblllLy for a shlrL), LhaL he breached LhaL duLy (l.e. Lhe cleaner rulned Lhe shlrL), LhaL Lhls breach
of duLy was Lhe proxlmaLe cause of damages Lo Lhe plalnLlff, and LhaL a moneLary value can be placed on
Lhese damages, Lhen a prlma facle case of negllgence has been esLabllshed. Cnce Lhls occurs, Lhen Lhe
burden of proof shlfLs Lo Lhe defendanL, who musL now explaln why he should noL be held llable for Lhe
damages.
213

un|t|ve Damages
Clvll courLs can someLlmes award punlLlve damages - money awarded Lo Lhe plalnLlff LhaL ls above and
beyond Lhe dlrecL, consequenLlal and/or menLal damages LhaL he as acLually susLalned. A plalnLlff
cannoL seek punlLlve damages ln small cl alms courL.
keasonab|eness
A sLandard employed ln many small clalms cases Lo deLermlne wheLher a parLy ls llable for damages. lor
example, a clerk maglsLraLe may conclude:
"lL was reasonably foreseeable LhaL Lhe plalnLlff's young chlld would [ump on Lhe de fendanL's backyard
Lrampollne (perhaps because Lhe plalnLlff llved rlghL nexL door), hence Lhe defendanL ls llable for Lhe
chlld's ln[urles."
"1he defendanL Look reasonable precauLlons Lo ensure agalnsL a Lrampollne ln[ury (l.e. he erecLed a
fence beLween Lhe Lwo properLles, or warned Lhe plalnLlff Lo waLch hls chlld carefully when playlng
ouLslde), hence Lhe defendanL ls noL llable for Lhe chlld's ln[urles."
"1he defendanL was glven a reasonable amounL of Llme Lo correcL Lhe problem (l.e. lL had been 6
monLhs slnce Lhe Lrampollne was lnsLalled, and sLlll Lhe defendanL dld noL erecL a fence or lssue a
warnlng Lo Lhe plalnLlff), hence Lhe defendanL ls llable for Lhe ln[urles."
1he sLandard of reasonableness applles ln non-negllgence cases as well. ln shorL, l L allows Lhe clerk
maglsLraLe some dlscreLlon ln decldlng wheLher or noL a clalm ls leglLlmaLe.




213
vetyboJy's leqol ulctloooty, nolo.com LawCenLer ulcLlonary
79

Chapter 8
Cred|t]Deb|t Law
ulspuLes ofLen arlse over Lhe paymenL of debL or Lhe collecLlon of credlLs. 1hese debLs can arlse from
credlL cards, loans, or oLher ways ln whlch cllenLs elLher owe money or are Lrylng Lo acLually recover
debLs LhaL are owed Lo Lhem.
Debt Co||ect|on
A debL arlses when one parLy (Lhe credlLor) loans money Lo anoLher parLy (Lhe debLor) wlLh an
expecLaLlon of belng pald back aL a laLer daLe (usually wlLh lnLeresL.) AL Llme a person wlll flnd hlmself
burdened wlLh more debL Lhan he can handle, however, all debLs musL be repald accordlng Lo Lhe Lerms
of Lhe loan conLracL, even lf economlc hardshlps or oLher problems arlse for Lhe debLor. 1hls means a
debLor who flnds hlmself ln an economlc Lough Llme should lmmedlaLely:
214

ConLacL each of hls credlLors and explaln Lhe slLuaLlon.
1ry Lo work ouL a paymenL plan LhaL, whlle dlfferenL from Lhe one orlglnally agreed upon, wlll be
feaslble for Lhe debLor and saLlsfacLory for Lhe credlLor.
SLlck Lo Lhe plan you work ouL. AlLhough credlLors are usually eager Lo work wlLh Lhelr debLors
Lo solve problems, Lhey may lose paLlence lf a debLor ofLen reneges on newly formed paymenL
plans.
Conslder conLacLlng a credlL counsellng servlce. 1hls servlce works ouL a paymenL plan for Lhe
debLor, and dlsLrlbuLes Lhe acLual paymenLs Lo Lhe credlLors.
CLher meLhods of deallng wlLh debL lnclude consolldaLlng debL Lhrough loans or declaraLlon of
bankrupLcy. 1hese are sLeps wlLh serlous consequences and should be Laken only afLer consulLlng wlLh
an aLLorney.
213

AlLhough worklng Loward a soluLlon ls advanLageous for boLh sldes, lf a debLor falls Lo pay back Lhe
credlLor, Lhe credlLor wlll llkely Lake acLlon Lo Lry Lo geL hl s or her money back. 8emember, lf a cllenL ls
Lhe debLor, ?Cu CWL 1PL MCnL?. 1herefore, a debLor should do everyLhlng Lhey can Lo pay back Lhe
money. 1here are no laws LhaL allow you Lo slmply "escape" debL.


214
A Mossocbosetts coosomet ColJe, Moooqloq cteJlt ooJ uebt, MassachuseLLs Consumer Affalrs and 8uslness
8egulaLlon.
213
A Mossocbosetts coosomet ColJe, Moooqloq cteJlt ooJ uebt, MassachuseLLs Consumer Affalrs and 8uslness
8egulaLlon.
80

uunnlng (Lhe pracLlce of a credlLor Lrylng Lo encourage Lhe paymenL of debLs) ls legal, buL has a few
resLrlcLlons.
216
A credlLor may noL:
Call Lhe debLor aL home more Lhan Lwo Llmes ln each 7-day perlod or aL any oLher place ln each
30-day perlod for each debL.
Call Lhe debLor and noL ldenLlfy hlmself as a person calllng on behalf of a credlLor
Send collecLlon noLlces Lo Lhe debLor LhaL openly lmplles LhaL Lhe person ls ln debL.
1ell anyone abouL Lhe debL ln hopes of lnLlmldaLlng Lhe debLor lnLo paylng.
ConLacL Lhe debLor ouLslde of normal waklng hours (8AM Lo 9M).
ConLacL Lhe debLor dlrecLly when Lhe credlLor has been noLlfled Lo communlcaLe only wlLh Lhe
debLor's aLLorney.
Cause Lhe debLor Lo be charged for long dlsLance phone calls.
lalsely LhreaLen Lo Lake legal acLlon.
1hreaLen Lo use vlolence
use obscene language
lor Lelephone, gas and elecLrlc uLlllLy companles, however, some excepLlons are made.
217

lf credlLors engage ln lllegal dunnlng pracLlces, Lhey should be reporLed Lo Lhe Cfflce of Lhe ALLorney
Ceneral (617) 727-8400.
1he followlng are lawful meLhods of debL collecLlng for debLs arlslng from a courL order or ad[udlcaLlon:
SeL-Cff: A bank where a debLor has funds deposlLed and Lo whlch a debLor owes money
wlLhdraws money from Lhe debLor's accounL(s) Lo pay off Lhe overdue debL. 1he bank does noL
have Lo go Lo courL Lo do Lhls, buL lL musL noLlfy Lhe debLor ln wrlLlng when lL has "seL -off" Lhe
accounL.
218

Llen: lf agreed upon by boLh parLles prlor Lo a loan conLracL, a llen allows a credlLor Lo Lake
acLlon agalnsL a debLor ln Lhe evenL of unpald debL. 1hls usually occurs by one of Lwo meLhods:
1. loreclosure: A credlLor Lakes ownershlp of a dellnquenL debLor's house. 1he credlLor usually
sells Lhe house Lo pay off Lhe balance of Lhe debL, and Lhe debLor ls forced Lo move ouL.
219

2. 8epossesslon: A credlLor (usually a bank) Lakes possesslon of whaLever properLy Lhe debLor
has used as collaLeral for a loan ln Lhe evenL Lhe debLor ls dellnquenL. 1o do Lhls, Lhe
credlLor musL Lake Lhe followlng sLeps:
220

a. lnform Lhe debLor wlLhln 10 days of Lhe mlssed paymenL LhaL L he debLor has 21
days Lo cure Lhe defaulL (brlng Lhe loan up Lo daLe) or repossesslon wlll occur.

216
940 CM8 7.00
217
940 CM8 7.04 (3)
218
M.C.L. c. 62u, 9
219
coosomet coocetos fot OlJet Ametlcoos. 5teps tbot AJvocotes coo 1oke to nelp lteveot loteclosote, naLlonal
Consumer Law CenLer, lnc.
220
M.C.L. c. 233, 131
81

b. lf Lhe defaulL ls noL cured, Lhe credlLor can Lake possesslon of Lhe properLy.
Powever, Lhe credlLor musL noLlfy Lhe debLor LhaL Lhe debLor has a rlghL Lo regaln
possesslon wlLhln 20 days and noLlfy how Lhls can occur.
lf Lhe debLor cannoL meeL Lhe Lerms Lo regaln possesslon, Lhe credlLor may resell Lhe properLy.
221

nomestead Act
1he only excepLlon Lo Lhls comes ln Lhe form of Lhe PomesLead AcL. 1he PomesLead AcL allows
homeowners Lo proLecL Lhelr prlnclpal place of resldence from collecLlons acLlons LhaL mlghL oLherwlse
force Lhe sale of Lhe home Lo pay for an ouLsLandlng debL. ln MA, Lhe homesLead exempLlon ls
$300,000. 1hls ls noL appllcable for debLs accumulaL ed prlor Lo purchase of home, courL ordered supporL
paymenLs Lo spouse or chlldren, debLs for Laxes, or deblLs on 1sL/2nd morLgages.
222

lf Lhe unpald balance on a debL ls less Lhan $2,000, Lhen Lhe debLor ls noL responslble lf Lhe properLy ls
sold for less Lhan Lhe amounL owed. lf Lhe balance owed ls greaLer Lhan $2,000, Lhe debLor ls flnanclally
responslble for any dlscrepancy beLween Lhe amounL owed and Lhe resale value. lf Lhe properLy ls
resold for more money Lhan ls owed, Lhe credlLor MuS1 pay Lhe surplus Lo Lhe debLor wlLhouL Lhe
debLor havlng Lo ask for Lhe money. 1he credlLor may always resorL Lo a lawsulL Lo make Lhe debLor pay
Lhe balance owed, even lf Lhls means Laklng possesslon of oLher asseLs.
223

Debt Co||ect|on Agenc|es
lf you do noL pay a blll, over Llme, your ouLsLandlng blll geLs sold Lo debL collecLor agencles. uebL
collecLlon agencles buy ouLsLandlng bllls ln bulk aL a very low prlce, and Lhen rlng people Lo courL Lo
collecL Lhelr "debLs".
lf you are faclng a debL collecLlon agency ln courL, remember Lhe followlng Llps:
Always show up Lo your Lrlal
Ask Lhe lawyer Lo lLeml ze each cosL assoclaLed wlLh Lhe amounL Lhey clalm you owe: 8y Lhe Llme
your debL geLs Lo Lhe debLs collecLlon agency, lL has been passed along many hands, and ofLen
Lhe debL collecLlon agency cannoL lLemlze Lhe blll.
8rlng all documenLaLlon you have. Pavlng your own documenLaLlon shows Lhe courL LhaL you
are organlzed and glves you Lhe ablllLy Lo know whaL you acLually owe lnsLead of slmply
accepLlng whaL Lhe debL collecLlon agency says you owe.



221
M.C.L. c. 233, 131
222
CreaL 8osLon Legal Servlce 1ralnlng wlLh 8eLsey Crlmmen, Aprll 2006.
223
M.C.L. c. 233, 13!.
82

Cred|t D|sputes
Congress passed Lhe lalr CredlL 8llllng AcL ln 1974 Lo help consumers resolve dlspuLes wlLh credlLors and
Lo ensure falr handllng of credlL accounLs. 1he AcL generally applles only Lo "open end" credlL accounLs,
whlch lnclude credlL cards, revolvlng charge accounLs (such as deparLmenL sLore accounLs), and
overdrafL checklng. 1he AcL covers Lhe perlodlc bllls recelved for such accounLs, buL does noL apply Lo
loans or credlL sales LhaL are pald accordlng Lo a flxed schedul e unLll Lhe enLlre amounL ls pald back.
224

When a mlsLake appears on a blll, Lhe cusLomer musL send a noLlce Lo Lhe address provlded on Lhe blll
for bllllng error noLlces (and noL, for example, dlrecLly Lo Lhe sLore, unless LhaL's where Lhe blll says lL
should be senL) wlLhln 60 days afLer Lhe blll conLalnlng Lhe error was malled.
223

1he leLLer musL lnclude:
226

1. 1he cusLomer's name and accounL number.
2. A sLaLemenL LhaL Lhe cusLomer belleves Lhere has been a bllllng error and Lhe dollar amounL
lnvolved.
3. 1he reasons why Lhe cusLomer belleves Lhere ls a mlsLake.
lL ls a good ldea Lo send Lhe leLLer by cerLlfled mall, wlLh a reLurn recelpL requesLed. 1he leLLer clalmlng a
bllllng error musL be acknowledged by Lhe credlLor ln wrlLlng wlLhln 30 days afLer lL ls recelved, unless
Lhe problem ls resolved wlLhln LhaL Llme. ln any case, wlLhln Lwo bllllng cycles (buL noL more Lhan 90
days), Lhe credlLor musL conducL a reasonable lnvesLlgaLlon and elLher correcL Lhe mlsLake or explaln
why he belleves Lhe blll Lo be correcL.
227

A cusLomer may wlLhhold paymenL of Lhe amounL ln dlspuLe lncludlng Lhe affecLed porLlons of mlnlmum
paymenLs and flnance charges unLll Lhe dlspuLe ls resolved. 1he cusLomer ls requlred Lo pay any parL of
Lhe blll LhaL ls noL dlspuLed.
Lven afLer Lhe dlspuLe seLLlemenL procedure has ended, a cusLomer may sLlll feel Lhe blll ls wrong. lf Lhls
happens, wrlLe Lhe credlLor wlLhln 10 days afLer recelvlng Lhe explanaLlon and sLaLe Lhe reasons for
refuslng Lo pay Lhe dlspuLed amounL. 1he credlLor may begln collecLlons procedure. lf Lhe credlLor
reporLs Lhe lndlvldual Lo a credlL bureau as a dellnquenL, Lhe credlLor musL also reporL LhaL Lhe
lndlvldual does noL belleve he owes Lhe money.
228




224
lalr CredlL 8llllng AcL, ubllc Law 930493, 93rd Congress, P.8. 11221, CcL. 28 1974
223
1be Attotoey Ceoetol's coosomet ColJe to cteJlt, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce WebslLe.
226
1be Attotoey Ceoetol's coosomet ColJe to cteJlt, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce WebslLe.
227
1be Attotoey Ceoetol's coosomet ColJe to cteJlt, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce WebslLe.
228
lalr CredlL 8llllng AcL of 1974
83

Cred|t n|story
A credlL hlsLory ls a collecLlon of daLa concernlng a person's pr evlous debLs and wheLher or noL Lhese
debLs were pald saLlsfacLorlly. 1hls hlsLory ls usually complled by speclallzed agencles and used by
poLenLlal credlLors as a collecLlon of facLs, noL necessarlly as an evaluaLlon.
1he agencles LhaL gaLher and sell Lhls lnformaLlon are called Consumer 8eporLlng Agencles" or C8As.
1he mosL common Lype of C8A ls Lhe credlL bureau. 1he lnformaLlon sold by C8A's Lo credlLors,
employers, lnsurers, and oLher buslnesses ls called a "consumer reporL." 1hls reporL generally con Lalns
lnformaLlon abouL where a person llves and hls blll -paylng hablLs.
229

lf a person ls denled credlL, he has Lhe rlghL Lo be Lold by Lhe credlLor Lhe speclflc reasons for Lhe credlL
denlal lf he asks.
230
lf lnformaLlon ln a credlL reporL was used Lo deny credlL, Lhe person has Lhe rlghL Lo
be Lold by Lhe credlLor whlch C8A prepared Lhe reporL,
231
and also has Lhe rlghL Lo obLaln a free copy of
hls reporL from LhaL C8A.
232

MassachuseLLs resldenLs are also enLlLled Lo requesL one free copy of Lhelr credlL reporL per C8A per
calendar year, and may requesL an addlLlonal copy aL any Llme for a reasonable free.
233

A person ls proLecLed from Lhe clrculaLlon of lnaccuraLe or obsoleLe lnformaLlon LhaL may affecL hls
credlL sLandlng, and he may dlspuLe Lhe accuracy of sLaL emenL conLalned ln hls flle. lf Lhe lnformaLlon ln
a person's flle ls lnaccuraLe or lncompleLe, Lhe person musL noLlfy Lhe C8A ln wrlLlng.
234
1he C8A musL
lnvesLlgaLe and, lf necessary, correcL each dlspuLed enLry ln a reasonable amounL of Llme. lf a person
cannoL resolve Lhe dlspuLe wlLh Lhe C8A, he ls enLlLled Lo enLer a sLaLemenL (100 words maxlmum) ln
Lhe flle and have lL lncluded ln all fuLure reporLs.
233

negaLlve lnformaLlon LhaL ls more Lhan seven years old cannoL be lncluded ln Lhe credlL reporL. 1he
maln excepLlons Lo Lhls rule lnclude bankrupLcy, whlch may be reporLed for up Lo Len years, crlmlnal
convlcLlons, whlch may be reporLed aL any Llme, and lawsulLs or unpald [udgmenLs agalnsL Lhe
lndlvldual, whlch can be reporLed unLll Lhe sLaLuLe of llmlLaLlons runs ouL.
236

Loans
1he pracLlce of lendlng ls deflned as money glven ln advanced from one parLy Lo anoLher wlLh Lhe
expecLaLlon LhaL Lhe orlglnal credlLor wlll be pald back. 1yplcally, Lhe pracLlce of lendlng comes wlLh

229
l1c locts fot coosomets. lolt cteJlt kepottloq, lederal 1rade Commlsslon
230
l1c locts fot coosomets. pool cteJlt Oppottoolty, lederal 1rade Commlsslon.
231
A Mossocbosetts coosomet ColJe. Moooqloq cteJlt ooJ uebt, MassachuseLLs Cfflce of Consumer Affalrs and
8uslness 8egulaLlon
232
1be Attotoey Ceoetol's coosomet ColJe to cteJlt, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce WebslLe
233
M.C.L. c. 93, 36(b)
234
l1c locts fot coosomets. lolt cteJlt kepottloq, lederal 1rade Commlsslon
233
1be Attotoey Ceoetol's coosomet ColJe to cteJlt, MassachuseLLs ALLorney Ceneral's Cfflce WebslLe
236
l1c locts fot coosomets. lolt cteJlt kepottloq, lederal 1rade Commlsslon
84

lnLeresL, where Lhe group LhaL borrowed Lhe money musL pay back all LhaL Lhey borrowed wlLh some
addlLlonal galn (usually money).
1here are Lwo Lypes of loans, secured and unsecure loans.
Secured |oans are backed by some sorL of collaLeral. 1hls collaLeral can be anyLhlng, lncludlng
homes, cars, money, lnsurance pollcles wlLh cash values, or even caLLle. AnyLhlng of value can
be used ln Lhls loan as long as you can prove you own lL.
Unsecured |oans are not backed by collaLeral.
Secured loans use Lhree baslc lnsLrumenLs Lo creaLe Lhe loan. Secured loans wlll have Lhe collaLeral (and
proof of ownershlp) ready, along wlLh a conLracL LhaL has Lhe Lerms of paymenL, lnLeresL and oLher
agreemenLs, and a securlLy deposlL. lederal law sLaLes LhaL Lhe Annual e rcenLage 8aLe (A8) be shown
bo|d|y. 1he A8 ls Lhe lnLeresL raLe you wlll pay on an annual basls, facLorlng ln any long or shorL
paymenL sLarL daLes, exLra fees LhaL are really lnLeresL and how ofLen paymenLs are made.
1he securlLy deposlL shows LhaL Lhe lender has a securlLy lnLeresL ln Lhe col laLeral LhaL ls belng offered ln
Lhe loan. 1he documenL ls usually a flnanclng sLaLemenL for auLos and oLher movable and Langlble
collaLeral (called cbottel properLy), a morLgage for real esLaLe and a purchase money morLgage for
revolvlng credlL (deparLmenL sLore credlL cards). 1hese all show legally LhaL Lhe lender has an lnLeresL ln
Lhe collaLeral and can selze Lhe collaLeral Lo repay Lhe debL. 1hls selzure ls called repossess|on for
chaLLel properLy and forec|osure for real properLy. 1hls securlLy documenL ls ofLen flled publlcly ln a
counLy courLhouse, where lL ls made publlc record. ln Lhe case of real esLaLe, however, lL musL be flled
publlcly.
AlLhough noL always a requlremenL, mosL lenders wlll also make you show proof LhaL you have sufflclenL
lnsurance for Lhe collaLeral so LhaL Lhey wlll be able Lo recover Lhe loss ln Lhe evenL LhaL Lhe collaLeral ls
gone (l.e. a house ls used as collaLeral ln a secure loan).
Loans can also be close-ended or open ended. C|ose-ended |oans are loans whose Lerms cannoL be
changed excepL Lhrough paylng off Lhe loan and Laklng a new loan. lor example, lf Lwo people are on a
loan and one of Lhe lndlvlduals wanLs Lo be off of Lhe loan, Lhe loan musL be pald off Lo Lhen Lake ouL a
new loan for Lhe changes Lo Lake effecL. Cpen-Lnded |oans, however, do noL have such Lerms. 1he
agreemenLs can be changed. 1hese Lypes of loans are mosL common wlLh credlL cards operaLed Lhrough
deparLmenL sLores, whlle close-ended loans are more common ln real esLaLe and auLos.
Cther Notes
ln MassachuseLLs, loans less Lhan $6,000 are prohlblLed from charglng over 23 lnLeresL. 1hls resLrlcLlon
only applles Lo banks, credlL unlons and lenders LhaL are llcensed Lhrough Lhe sLaLe of MassachuseLLs,
83

however.
237
1herefore, loans LhaL are obLalned over Lhe l nLerneL are noL sub[ecL Lo MassachuseLLs
regulaLlons.

Iurther uest|ons
CuesLlons and complalnLs abouL credlL or debL collecLlon pracLlces of collecLlon agencles and banks
should be dlrecLed Lo:

MassachuseLLs ulvlslon of 8anks
Consumer AsslsLance Cfflce
Cne SouLh SLaLlon
8osLon, MassachuseLLs 02110
(617) 936-1400 exL. 301














237
M.C.L. c. 140 96
Chapter 9
Wage Law


M.G.L. Chapter 149 and Chapter 151
Wage law governs the transactions between an employer and an employee. Whenever an
employee provides an employer with a certain form of labor and is due a monetary
compensation, there are certain guidelines governing how and when those wages paid. In
Massachusetts, the central statute regarding wage law is Chapter 149 of the
Massachusetts General Law. Specifically, Sections 148-150 of Chapter 149 comprise
much of the relevant material about wage laws and violations.
Section 148:
Section 148 is aimed at governing the payment of wages and commissions, who is
deemed an employer, the provisions for cashing a check, and the rectification of the
violation of wage law.
1
One of the most important aspects of section 148 is the timetable
it lays out for how long an employer has to pay his or her employees. The amount of time
an employer has to pay wages is determined by the number of days the employee is
employed for in a calendar week. The employer then has a certain number of days
following the termination of the pay period to pay the employee. According to section
148, a pay period can be defined as weekly or bi-weekly. The time table is as follows:

Number of Days in Calendar Week
Number of Days Following the
Termination of the Pay Period
7 days 7 days after termination of the pay period
6 days 6 days after termination of the pay period

1
M.G.L. c. 149 ! #$%
5 days 7 days after termination of the pay period

It is important to note that an employee who works for a period of less than five days is
considered a casual employee.
2


Moreover, section 149 provides guidelines for how an employee is to be paid following
termination, i.e. fired: any employee leaving his employment shall be paid in full on the
following regular pay day, and, in the absence of a regular pay day, on the following
Saturday; and any employee discharged from such employment shall be paid in full on
the day of his discharge.
3


There certain employees exempt from the regulations set forth in section 148:
Employees at a hospital that is supported by government contributions
Employees of an incorporated hospital which provides treatment to patients free
of charge, or which is conducted as a public charity
Employees of a co-operative association if they are a shareholder therein
Casual employees

Section 150:
Employees can litigate for wage law infractions under Massachusetts General
Laws Chapter 149, Section 27, 27F, 27G, 33E, 52D, 148, 148A, 148B, 150, 150C,
152, 152A, 159C; and chapter 151, sections 1B, 19, and 20.

2
M.G.L. c. 149 ! #$%
3
M.G.L. c. 149 ! #$%
Wage law violations under these sections can result in treble damages being paid
to the prevailing plaintiff.
To bring legal action under Chapter 149 (health, safety, and working conditions
suits) and Chapter 151, Section 19 (one class of minimum wage violations), the
employees must contact the Attorney Generals Office and provide a report of the
infraction and either:
o Wait 90 days after filing said report
o File in court if permission is granted by the Attorney Generals Office
within the 90 day window.
Employees have up to three years to sue after the violation occurred.
If one is instead bringing suit under Chapter 151, Section 1B and 20 (infractions
regarding failure to pay proper overtime pay or other categories of minimum
wage violations), employees need not report the infraction to the Attorney
Generals Office; however, the statute of limitations under these sections is two
years.

Fair Labor Standards Act Massachusetts Minimum Wage Regulations

Aside from wage laws in the Commonwelath, it is important to note that there are
federal guidelines that could prove useful in helping clients out with wage disputes. The
minimum hourly wage in Massachusetts is $8.00 [with several exceptions see
below].If the federal wage becomes equal to or becomes higher than the State minimum,
then the MA state minimum wage automatically increases to 10 cents above the federal
rate set. If an employee works more than 40 hours a week, they must be paid at least 1.5
times their regular rate. Commissions, bonuses, incentive pay, etc. are excluded in
computing regular rate/overtime pay.
The above is not applicable to:

Janitor/maintenance employees who receive free rent for their services
Interstate truck drivers/helpers covered by federal law
Seasonal workers (involved in businesses that operate less than 120 days/year)
Golf caddies, newsboys, child actor/performers
Outside salesman/buyer
Fisherman
Switchboard operator
Farm/agriculture laborer
Workers in hotel, gas station, restaurant, non-profit college/school, etc.
4

Service employees:
$2.63 minimum wage (provided that they receive and retain tips that exceed
$20/month)
Tips when added to service rate ($2.63) must equal or exceed the basic minimum
wage
Employer must inform employee of provisions
All tips received by employee must be either retained by him/her or distributed
through a tip-pooling arrangement

Farming/Agriculture:
$1.60 minimum wage
Boarding, lodging, facilities are not included as part of the wage paid to
employee.

Migrant farm workers (not under federal government contract) After 10 days of
employment, they must be provided with health insurance coverage as follows:

Hospital room/board maximum of ($45/day) x (Days of hospital
confinement) or $3150 [whichever is less]
Hospital service/supply - maximum of $450
Out-patient lab/ x-ray exams maximum of $50
Sickness (within a 12 month period) - maximum of $50

4
For a full list you can refer to:
http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXXI/Chapter151/Section1A

Surgical fee maximum of $400/operation
In-hospital physician fee - maximum of ($7/day) x (days of hospital
confinement) or $490 (whichever is less)

Up to 40% of insurance premium may be withheld from weekly wages or salary from
said worker. Employer contributes 60%. However, if the worker is unable to work for
week, the employer must pay full cost of premium for week. Additionally, if the
employer fails to withhold premium payments from the weekly wage, then the employer
liable for entire premium.

Disabled employees:
Must be paid the basic minimum wage

Individuals in apprentice or trainee/learner programs, camp counselors, and/or
minors working part-time while still in secondary school:
&'() *+ ,-./ 01 2+(( )3-0 %45 16 *-(.7 8.0.8'8 9-:+

Violations
If an employer knowingly pays or agrees to pay employee less than required rates
(established by commissioner and/or the minimum fair wage regulation) or $1.85/hour in
any occupation not covered by min wage regulation or $1.60/hour for
farming/agriculture, they are subject to a separate civil citation for each week that is not
fully paid to the employee.
The individual can prosecute for the full amount of overtime minus the amount
actually paid to him/her by the employer. If the individual wins, he/she can be awarded
treble damages in addition to costs of litigation and attorney fees (if applicable). The
attorney general may bring into effect legal action if necessary to collect the claim. Any
agreement between the employer and employee for work for less than overtime
compensation is not a valid defense in court.
If an individual is fired because of reporting minimum wage violations, the
employer is subject to civil citation/order and is liable for damages at least 1 months
wages and at most 2 months wages of individual in addition to court costs.
Unlawful Deductions
5

No deductions (except meals/lodging/uniforms) can be made from basic
minimum wage laws. For details and more on deductions related to uniforms and
childcare please refer to:
http://www.mass.gov/lwd/labor-standards/minimum-wage/statutes-and-regs/minimum-
wage-regulations-455-cmr-200.html


5
Minimum Wage Regulations - 455 CMR 2.00
86

Append|ces













AGREEMENT FOR JUDGMENT
AND FOR PAYMENT ORDER
DOCKET NUMBER
Trial Court of Massachusetts
Small Claims Session
PLAINTIFF(S) WHO ARE PARTIES TO THIS AGREEMENT
VS.
COURT DIVISION
DEFENDANT(S) WHO ARE PARTIES TO THIS AGREEMENT
* Check here if defendant has moved and write new address above or on back of court copy
REQUESTED DATE OF PAYMENT REVIEW
* No payment review requested
* JUDGMENT FOR PLAINTIFF(S). It is hereby agreed that in this small claim the Court may enter a judgment
for the plaintiff(s) named above and against the defendant(s) named above for:
$ _____________ DAMAGES
$ _____________ COSTS
$ _____________ ATTORNEY FEES
(if authorized by contract or statute)
* Plus PREJUDGMENT INTEREST from ___________________ (date)
at the 12% statutory rate or the _______% contractual rate
* Prejudgment interest is waived by the plaintiff.
* Postjudgment interest is waived by the plaintiff.
PAYMENT ORDER. It is also agreed that the Court may enter a payment order that requires the defendant(s):
* to pay the plaintiff(s) the total amount of the judgment on or before __________________________________ (date).
* to pay the plaintiff(s) $ ______________ each * week * month beginning on ________________ (date)
until the total amount of the judgment is paid in full.
This payment order will not be satisfied with any exempt income listed on pg. 2 of this form.
* REVISED PAYMENT ORDER. In this small claim the Court has already entered a judgment and it is hereby agreed that the Court
may revise that payment order as follows:
This payment order will not be satisfied with any exempt income listed on pg. 2 of this form.
* SATISFIED IN FULL. It is also agreed that this claim or judgment has already been satisfied in full.
(By court rule plaintiff(s) must file an acknowledgment of satisfaction with the court when the judgment has been paid in full.)
* JUDGMENT FOR DEFENDANT(S). It is hereby agreed that in this small claim the Court may enter a judgment
for the defendant(s) named above, and the plaintiff(s) shall take nothing on this claim.
* DISMISSAL. It is hereby agreed that the Court may enter a judgment dismissing this small claim.
* JUDGMENT ON COUNTERCLAIM. It is also agreed that the Court may enter the following judgment on the counterclaim brought
by the above-named defendant(s) against the above-named plaintiff(s):
OTHER PROVISIONS OR COMMENTS
Upon acceptance by the Court, a judgment and payment order will be entered in accordance with the above terms and will be enforceable as an order of the Court.
X ____________________
SIGNATURE OF PLAINTIFF(S) OR ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF(S) PRINT NAME DATE
X _ __________________
SIGNATURE OF DEFENDANT(S) OR ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT(S) PRINT NAME DATE
RECORD OF COURT REVIEW (For optional use by magistrate)
* To be entered as courts judgment and/or payment order. * Agreement was submitted in open court and Rule 7(a) inquiry made of defendant(s) as to any payment order.
X
CLERK-MAGISTRATE / ASST. CLERK
DC-SC-8 (4/11) www.mass.gov/courts/districtcourt
INCOME THAT IS EXEMPT FROM PAYMENT ORDERS
1. ALL INCOME FROM THE FOLLOWING SOURCES is exempt by law from any payment order:
Unemployment Benefits (G.L. c. 151A, 36)
Workers Compensation Benefits (G.L. c. 152, 47)
Social Security Benefits (42 U.S.C. 401)
Federal Old-Age, Survivors & Disability Insurance Benefits (42 U.S.C. 407)
Supplementary Security Income (SSI) for Aged, Blind & Disabled (42 U.S.C. 1383[d][1])
Other Disability Insurance Benefits up to $400 weekly (G.L. c. 175, 110A)
Emergency Aid for Elderly & Disabled (now G.L. c. 117A)
Veterans Benefits
Federal Veterans Benefits (38 U.S.C. 5301[a])
Special Benefits for Certain WW II Veterans (42 U.S.C. 1001)
Medal of Honor Veterans Benefits (38 U.S.C. 1562)
State Veterans Benefits (G.L. c. 115, 5)
Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Benefits (G.L. c. 118, 10)
Maternal Child Health Services Block Grant Benefits (42 U.S.C. 701)
Other public assistance benefits (G.L. c. 235, 34, fifteenth)
2. In addition, A PORTION OF WAGES OR EMPLOYMENT-BASED RETIREMENT PAYMENTS
is exempt by law from any payment order. The exempt amount is
$400 or 85% of your weekly gross earnings, whichever is greater.

Massachusetts law exempts the greater of 85% of the debtors gross earnings or 50 times the greater of the Federal minimum wage ($7.25 as of
7/24/09) or the Massachusetts minimum wage ($8.00 per G.L.c. 151, 1) for each week or portion thereof. (G.L. c. 224, 16 & c. 246, 28). The
Federal exemption (15 U.S.C. 1671-1677) is not applicable as it will always be less than the Massachusetts exemption.
DEFENDANTS WORKSHEET FOR CALCULATING EXEMPT AMOUNT
OF WAGES OR EMPLOYMENT-BASED RETIREMENT PAYMENTS

Write the amount of your weekly gross earnings here = $ _____________
If your weekly gross earnings are less than $400,
enter the amount of your weekly gross earnings
If your weekly gross earnings are $400$470, enter $400
If your weekly gross earnings are more than $470,
enter 85% of your weekly gross earnings
$
This is the amount of your
weekly gross earnings that is exempt
from any payment orders.
DC-SC-8-Obverse (4/11) www.mass.gov/courts/districtcourt
APPEARANCE OF COUNSEL
Trial Court of Massachusetts
District Court Department
CASE NAME:
_____________________________________________
v.
__________________________________________________
To the Clerk-Magistrate:
Please enter my appearance as attorney for _______________________________________________
in the above numbered court action.
DOCKET NUMBER:
DISTRICT COURT
ATTORNEY NAME
STATE ZIP CODE
B.B.O. NUMBER (Required)
TELEPHONE NUMBER
X__________________________________________________
SIGNATURE OF ATTORNEY
_____________________________
DATE
DC-CR-19 (6/06)
STREET ADDRESS
ATTORNEY FIRM
CITY / TOWN
___________________________
http://trialcourtweb.jud.state.ma.us/courtsandjudges/courts/districtcourt/formsfordownload.html
PLAINTIFFS NAME, ADDRESS AND ZIP CODE
DEFENDANTS NAME, ADDRESS AND ZIP CODE
DEFENDANTS CLAIM OF APPEAL
DOCKET NO.
Trial Court of Massachusetts
District Court Department
Small Claims Session
DISTRICT COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED
PLAINTIFFS ATTORNEY
DEFENDANTS DAYTIME TELEPHONE NO.
DEFENDANTS ATTORNEY
Pursuant to General Laws chapter 218, section 23, I appeal from the decision of the magistrate in this small
claim, and request a trial (check only one):
by a District Court judge.
by a District Court jury of six persons.
I understand that if I request a trial by a judge, I will not have any right in the future to a trial by a jury.
I received the courts Notice of Judgment in this case on ______________________________________.
I state under the penalties of perjury that this claim of trial by a judge or a jury is intended in good faith, and
that there are questions of fact and law requiring trial by a judge or a jury, specifically:
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
This is signed under the penalties of perjury.
DATE DEFENDANTS SIGNATURE
DC-SC-4 (6/96)
VS.
Date
INSTRUCTIONS TO DEFENDANT WHO WISHES TO APPEAL
1. Massachusetts General Laws chapter 218, section 23 (which is reproduced below) permits a defendant to appeal from a
magistrates decision in a small claim for trial before either a District Court judge or a jury. If you request a trial by a judge, you will not
have any right in the future to a trial by a jury.
2. Generally the plaintiff does not have any right of appeal in a small claim. However, the plaintiff may appeal from a magistrates
decision in any counterclaim that was brought by the defendant against the plaintiff.
3. To claim an appeal, you must file this form or an equivalent claim of appeal within 10 days of receiving the courts Notice of
Judgment form notifying you of the magistrates decision. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays are included in counting the 10-day
period, but if the tenth day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, you may file your claim of appeal on the following business day.
File this form in the clerk-magistrates office of the court where the small claim was tried. Within the 10-day period, you must also pay
the $25 filing fee for the appeal required by G.L. c. 218 23. Make your check payable to Clerk-Magistrate. Also within the 10 days
you must generally post a $100 appeal bond. See Section 23 below for those situations when a higher bond, or no bond, is required.
You must do all of these things timely or your appeal will be dismissed.
4. You are entitled to a trial by either a judge or a jury only for disputed questions of fact. Section 23 requires you to specify
those disputed facts in your claim of appeal. If a judge finds that no legally-significant facts in this claim are disputed, the judge may
decide your appeal without a jury and without conducting a trial, by a procedure known as summary judgment, in which the judge
applies the law to undisputed facts. You should be prepared to inform the judge about which relevant facts the plaintiff and the
defendant agree on, and which relevant facts they disagree about.
5. Generally, the magistrates earlier decision will be prima facie evidence in the trial by a judge or a jury. This means that the
judge or the jury will be told about the magistrates decision. It also means that the judge or the jury could again decide in the plaintiffs
favor even if the plaintiff chooses to rest entirely on the magistrates prior decision and presents no other evidence before the judge or
the jury.
6. There is no right to a jury trial for certain types of claims, including claims under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act
(General Laws chapter 93A). If you request a jury trial for such a claim, the judge may decide to submit your appeal to a jury (for either a
binding verdict or an advisory verdict), or may determine them himself or herself without a jury.
7. You will be notified by the clerk-magistrates office when to appear for a pretrial conference or for trial. Please notify the clerk-
magistrates office if you change your address.
Excerpts from General Laws chapter 218, section 23
(as amended by St. 1992, c. 379)
A plaintiff beginning a cause under the [small claims] procedure shall be deemed to have waived a trial by jury and any right of
appeal to a jury of six session in the district court department. If, however, said cause shall be appealed to a jury of six session in the
district court department by the defendant as hereinafter provided, the plaintiff shall have the same right to claim a trial by a jury of six.
The defendant may, within ten days after receipt of the magistrates finding, file in the court where the cause was determined a
claim of trial by jury, or in the alternative for a trial before a single justice and shall file his affidavit that there are questions of law and fact
in the cause requiring a trial by jury or a single justice, with the specifications thereof, and that such trial is intended in good faith.
A defendants claim for trial by jury or by a single justice shall be accompanied by twenty-five dollars for the entry of the cause in
the court of the department to which the case has been appealed, and a bond in the penal sum of one hundred dollars, with such surety
or sureties as may be approved by the plaintiff or the clerk or an assistant clerk of the district court department, payable to the other
party or parties to the cause, conditioned to satisfy any judgment and costs which may be entered against him in the jury of six
proceeding or a proceeding before a single justice in said cause waiting thirty days after the entry thereof. Notwithstanding the
foregoing, in any action brought by a tenant of residential premises pursuant to [G.L. c. 186, 15B], bond shall be given in an amount
equal to three times the amount of the security deposit or balance thereof to which the tenant is entitled, plus interest at the rate of five
percent from the date when such payment became due, together with court costs and an amount equal to a reasonable attorneys fee
for service which had been performed by an attorney, if any, or which may be expected to be performed by an attorney during the
pendency of the appeal.
A finding for the plaintiff in the district court department shall be prima facie evidence for the plaintiff in the trial by jury of six or
before a single justice. At such trial the plaintiff may, but need not, introduce evidence.
No bond shall be required of . . . a defendant in an action of tort arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance, control or
use of a motor vehicle or trailer as defined in [G.L. c. 90, 1] if the payment of any judgment for costs which may be entered against him
is secured, in whole or in part, by a motor vehicle liability bond or policy or a deposit as provided in [G.L. c. 90, 34D].
The court shall waive the requirement of a bond in the amount of one hundred dollars if it is satisfied that the defendant has
insufficient funds available to him to furnish the necessary bond and that the defendants appeal is not frivolous.
FINANCIAL STATEMENT
OF JUDGMENT DEBTOR
DOCKET NUMBER
Trial Court of Massachusetts
Small Claims Session
CASE NAME CURRENT COURT
NAME OF JUDGMENT DEBTOR (the person who lost the case and owes money)
HOME ADDRESS HOME TELEPHONE NUMBER DATE OF BIRTH
SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER DRIVERS LICENSE NUMBER & STATE MARITAL STATUS NO. & AGE OF CHILDREN LIVING WITH YOU
OCCUPATION EMPLOYERS NAME & ADDRESS HOW LONG WITH EMPLOYER?
INCOME (list all sources) ASSETS (list value of all assets)
Your Gross Pay: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Your Take-Home Pay: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Spouses Take-Home Pay: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Child Support Income: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Pension: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . per week
AFDC/SSI: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Other (itemize on back): $ . . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Total Weekly Income: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Real Estate you own or co-own RESIDENCE OTHER
Address: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Other Owner(s): . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mortgage Balance: $ . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . . .
Fair Market Value: $ . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . . .
Rental Income: $ . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . . .
Vehicle(s)/Boat(s) You Own VEHICLE/BOAT 1 VEHICLE/BOAT 2
Year/Make & Model: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Purchase Year: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Purchase Price: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . .
Amount Owed: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . .
Bank Accounts CHECKING SAVINGS
Bank/Credit Union: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Account No.: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Balance: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . .
Expected Tax Refund: $ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
How much money do you have in cash? $ . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Have you disposed of or transferred any asset since this claim was
brought? (If so, explain on back.) ! No ! Yes
(List on back anything of value not listed above that you own or
co-own, or that is held for you by another.)
EXPENSES
Rent/Mortgage: $ . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Utilities: $ . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Food: $ . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Alimony/Child Support: $ . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Child Care: $ . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Transportation: $ . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Insurance: $ . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Entertainment (including cable): $ . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Other (itemize on back): $ . . . . . . . . . . . per week
Total Weekly Expenses: $ . . . . . . . . . . . per week
DEBTS (list all debts not included above in your expenses e.g., credit card debts)
CREDITOR NATURE OF DEBT DATE OF ORIGIN TOTAL DUE WEEKLY PAYMENT
1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . . . .
2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . . . .
3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . . . . . $ . . . . . . . . . .
Under the penalties of perjury, I swear that the above information is complete and accurate to the best of my personal knowledge.
DATE SIGNED SIGNATURE OF JUDGMENT DEBTOR
X
Pursuant to Uniform Small Claims Rule 9(c), all information in this affidavit is CONFIDENTIAL.
It shall be available to any other party to this litigation, but shall not be available for public inspection unless the Court so orders.
DC-SC-6 (4/11) www.mass.gov/courts/districtcourt
INCOME THAT IS EXEMPT FROM PAYMENT ORDERS
1. ALL INCOME FROM THE FOLLOWING SOURCES is exempt by law from any payment order:
Unemployment Benefits (G.L. c. 151A, 36)
Workers Compensation Benefits (G.L. c. 152, 47)
Social Security Benefits (42 U.S.C. 401)
Federal Old-Age, Survivors & Disability Insurance Benefits (42 U.S.C. 407)
Supplementary Security Income (SSI) for Aged, Blind & Disabled (42 U.S.C. 1383[d][1])
Other Disability Insurance Benefits up to $400 weekly (G.L. c. 175, 110A)
Emergency Aid for Elderly & Disabled (now G.L. c. 117A)
Veterans Benefits
Federal Veterans Benefits (38 U.S.C. 5301[a])
Special Benefits for Certain WW II Veterans (42 U.S.C. 1001)
Medal of Honor Veterans Benefits (38 U.S.C. 1562)
State Veterans Benefits (G.L. c. 115, 5)
Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Benefits (G.L. c. 118, 10)
Maternal Child Health Services Block Grant Benefits (42 U.S.C. 701)
Other public assistance benefits (G.L. c. 235, 34, fifteenth)
2. In addition, A PORTION OF WAGES OR EMPLOYMENT-BASED RETIREMENT PAYMENTS
is exempt by law from any payment order. The exempt amount is
$400 or 85% of your weekly gross earnings, whichever is greater.

Massachusetts law exempts the greater of 85% of the debtors gross earnings or 50 times the greater of the Federal minimum wage ($7.25 as of
7/24/09) or the Massachusetts minimum wage ($8.00 per G.L.c. 151, 1) for each week or portion thereof. (G.L. c. 224, 16 & c. 246, 28). The
Federal exemption (15 U.S.C. 1671-1677) is not applicable as it will always be less than the Massachusetts exemption.
DEFENDANTS WORKSHEET FOR CALCULATING EXEMPT AMOUNT
OF WAGES OR EMPLOYMENT-BASED RETIREMENT PAYMENTS

Write the amount of your weekly gross earnings here = $ _____________
If your weekly gross earnings are less than $400,
enter the amount of your weekly gross earnings !
If your weekly gross earnings are $400$470, enter $400 !
If your weekly gross earnings are more than $470,
enter 85% of your weekly gross earnings !
$
This is the amount of your
weekly gross earnings that is exempt
from any payment orders.
DC-SC-6 (4/11) www.mass.gov/courts/districtcourt
MOTION TO THE COURT
AND AFFIDAVIT
CASE DOCKET NO.
Trial Court of Massachusetts
District Court Department
___________________________________ VS. _________________________________
PLAINTIFF / COMMONWEALTH DEFENDANT
DISTRICT COURT
On behalf of the in this case, I respectfully request the Court:
Continuance: to continue this case which is presently scheduled for _________________________________________
Event
on __________________________, until _________________________, for the reasons given on page 2 of this form.
Remove default: to order that the default, default order, or default judgment that was entered on ____________________ be set
aside, and that this case be restored to the court's calendar, for the reasons given on page 2 of this form.
Remove dismissal: to order that the order for, or judgment of, dismissal that was entered on _____________________ be set
aside, and that this case be restored to the court's calendar, for the reasons given on page 2 of this form.
Speedy trial: to order that the complaints whose numbers are listed above be advanced for speedy trial, for the reasons given on
page 2 of this form.
New trial: to order that the court's judgment in this case dated ______________________ be vacated and a new trial ordered,for
the reasons given on page 2 of this form. Date
Revise or revoke sentence: to revise or revoke the sentence(s) imposed in this case on ____________________ for the reasons
given on page 2 of this form. Date
Amend or extend an abuse prevention order: to extend or amend the abuse prevention order under G.L. c. 209A dated
__________________________ in the manner and for the reasons given on page 2 of this form.
Withdraw from representation: to be permitted to withdraw from further representation of the _______________________ in this
case for the reasons given on page 2 of this form. Party
Other: (Specify what you are asking the Court to do and the reasons on a separate piece of paper and attach it to this form.)
I have today mailed delivered a copy of this motion to all other parties to this case.
Any statements of fact made in this motion are made under the penalties of perjury and
DATE SIGNED
PRINT NAME ADDRESS PHONE NO.
If motion is agreed to by other party, that party or attorney should sign here to indicate assent.
DATE SIGNED PHONE NO.
FOR CLERK-MAGISTRATE'S USE ONLY
This motion has been scheduled for hearing >
before the Court on this date and time >
DATE OF HEARING TIME OF HEARING
DATE CLERK-MAGISTRATE OR DESIGNEE
FOR JUDGE'S USE ONLY
After hearing Without a hearing this motion is Allowed. Denied.
DATE JUSTICE
http://trialcourtweb.jud.state.ma.us/courtsandjudges/courts/districtcourt/formsfordownload.html (Rev 10/09)
Plaintiff Commonwealth Defendant
of my own personal knowledge. based on information that I believe is true.
X
X
X
Please note that you must comply with any court rules that govern your specific motion. Attach any materials you wish the Court to consider.
Include all reasons for your motion; failing to include a reason may bar you from raising it later. As indicated on page one, note that any factual
statements are made under the penalties of perjury.
MOTION TO THE COURT
AND AFFIDAVIT - PAGE 2
CASE DOCKET NO.
http://trialcourtweb.jud.state.ma.us/courtsandjudges/courts/districtcourt/formsfordownload.html (Rev 10/09)
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF
SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT
IN COUNTERCLAIM
DOCKET NUMBER
Trial Court of Massachusetts
District Court Department
DEFENDANT(S) FILING THIS FORM
VS.
COURT DIVISION
PLAINTIFF(S) DATE THIS JUDGMENT WAS ENTERED
I (we) hereby certify under the pains of perjury that:
! I am (we are) the defendant(s) who prevailed in a counterclaim
against the above-listed plaintiff(s) in the above-listed small claim or civil action,
! I am (we are) attorney(s) for the defendant(s) who prevailed in a counterclaim
against the above-listed plaintiff(s) in the above-listed small claim or civil action,
and that the judgment entered by this Court in that counterclaim on the above-listed date
for the defendant(s) and against the plaintiff(s) has been FULLY SATISFIED.
X __________________
DEFENDANT DATE PRINT NAME
X __________________
ADDITIONAL DEFENDANT DATE PRINT NAME
X
ADDITIONAL DEFENDANT DATE PRINT NAME
X __________________
ADDITIONAL DEFENDANT DATE PRINT NAME
OR
X _____________________________
ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT(S) DATE BBO No.
X __________________
ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT(S) DATE BBO No.
(10/09) www.mass.gov/courts/districtcourt
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF
SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT
DOCKET NUMBER
Trial Court of Massachusetts
District Court Department
PLAINTIFF(S) FILING THIS FORM
VS.
COURT DIVISION
DEFENDANT(S) DATE THIS JUDGMENT WAS ENTERED
I (we) hereby certify under the pains of perjury that:
! I am (we are) the plaintiff(s) in the above-listed small claim or civil action,
! I am (we are) the attorney(s) for the plaintiff(s) in the above-listed small claim or civil action,
and that the judgment entered by this Court in this matter against the above-listed defendant(s)
on the above-listed date has been FULLY SATISFIED.
X __________________
PLAINTIFF DATE PRINT NAME
X __________________
ADDITIONAL PLAINTIFF DATE PRINT NAME
X
ADDITIONAL PLAINTIFF DATE PRINT NAME
X __________________
ADDITIONAL PLAINTIFF DATE PRINT NAME
OR
X _____________________________
ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF(S) DATE BBO No.
X __________________
ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF(S) DATE BBO No.
(10/09) www.mass.gov/courts/districtcourt
APPEARANCE OF SUBSTITUTE COUNSEL
Trial Court of Massachusetts
District Court Department
Small Claims Session
CASE NAME
VS.
DOCKET NUMBER
COURT DIVISION
To the Clerk-Magistrate:
Pursuant to Trial Court Rule III, Uniform Small Claims Rule 7(b), please enter my appearance for
________________________________________________________________
PARTY
as substitute counsel for current counsel of record in the above-numbered court action.
Pursuant to Rule 7(e), this appearance is limited to todays proceedings only and does not displace
the appearance of current counsel of record, and all notices in this matter shall continue to be sent
to current counsel of record.
ATTORNEY NAME B.B.O. NUMBER (Required)
ATTORNEY FIRM TELEPHONE NUMBER
STREET ADDRESS EMAIL ADDRESS
CITY/TOWN STATE ZIP CODE
X ________________________________
SIGNATURE OF ATTORNEY DATE
(10/09) www.mass.gov/courts/districtcourt
VERIFICATION OF
DEFENDANTS ADDRESS
BY PLAINTIFF IN TRADE OR COMMERCE
OR PURSUING ASSIGNED DEBT
For Court
Use Only

DOCKET NO.
Trial Court of Massachusetts
Small Claims Session
PLAINTIFF(S)
VS.
COURT DIVISION
DEFENDANT(S)
This form must be filed along with the Statement of
Small Claim for any claim incurred in the course of
plaintiffs trade or commerce, or for assigned debt.
Use separate forms for multiple defendants if they
have different mailing addresses.
MAILING ADDRESS OF DEFENDANT(S)
Pursuant to Uniform Small Claims Rule 2(b), the defendants mailing address shown above has been verified in the
following manner:
Check at least one
of these methods:
! Verified with the following municipal record within the past 12 months:
Municipal record (e.g., street list or tax records):
Date verified:
! Verified with Registry of Motor Vehicles records within the past 12 months.
Date verified:
! Verified by receipt of correspondence from the defendant with that return address
within the past 12 months.
Date correspondence received:
! Other verification from the defendant within the past 12 months that address is current:
Describe:
or
Check at least two
of these methods:
! A letter was mailed to the defendant at the above address by first class mail on:
Date within past 6 months, and at least 4 weeks before filing this small claim:
and has not been returned to sender by the postal service.
! Verified using the following online database (other than white pages or other unpaid
general telephone directory) within the past 6 months:
Name and source of database:
! Verified with an additional source, specifically:

DATE SIGNED SIGNED UNDER THE PENALTIES OF PERJURY
X _______________________________________________________________________________________________
PLAINTIFF OR PLAINTIFFS ATTORNEY
DC-SC-7 (10/09) www.mass.gov/courts/districtcourt