Minnesota, as with many other states, has laws that protect residents from deceptive trade practices. Deceptive trade practices are those that either restrain trade or attempt to provide incorrect information to consumers. For example, it is illegal for car dealerships to adjust a vehicle’s odometer to make it appear as though the automobile has lower mileage than it actually has.
Other deceptive trade practices include selling used goods as new, selling goods or services below their cost and misleading customers about the quality or contents of merchandise. It is also illegal for businesses to monopolize food products or to engage in activities that restrain trade, such as through conspiracies with other businesses.
There are a variety of parties who can bring a lawsuit over deceptive trade practices, including the county attorney, the state attorney general and any consumer who has been or is likely to be harmed by such actions. If a business is found guilty of deceptive trade practices, it may face an injunction as well as being responsible for court costs and attorney’s fees. Businesses found guilty of automotive odometer tampering may also face actual damages and disbursements, and damages can be awarded up to three times actual damages.
If a business is accused of unfair trade practices, it is likely to end up having to defend itself against the charges. This can take resources away from the company as well as distract an owner or managers from being able to perform their duties. A business litigation attorney can provide advice to clients as to how to avoid running afoul of this type of problem.
This information is general in nature and should not be construed as tax or legal advice.