The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (“MMPA”) was passed in 1967 in order to provide greater protection for Missouri consumers as they went about the course of doing business. It is a consumer-friendly piece of legislation that covers a huge range of commercial activities and every consumer doing business in Missouri should be aware of its existence and core components.
The Purpose is to Protect Consumers
MMPA is a statute that is meant to protect Missouri consumers by giving individuals a fairer playing field in regard to conducting transactions, whether the dollar amount is high or low. The act is for consumer purchases of things for personal, family, or household purposes.
Supplemental Definition of Fraud
The MMPA specifically prohibits “any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practice or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise in trade or commerce” in Missouri. These definitions expand what was considered fraudulent business activity under Missouri common law.
Fraud is a Loose Term
The MMPA is meant “to be construed broadly to support its fundamental purpose of protecting consumers.” The MMPA specifically provides for deceptive business practices that are often subtle and designed to carefully mislead consumers.
Four Key Pieces to a Valid MMPA Claim
- It involves the purchase, advertisement, or solicitation of “merchandise”
- Claim must be for over a good or service that is for personal, family, or household purposes
- The Plaintiff has suffered an ascertainable loss of money or property
- That loss was the result of an act, committed before, during, or after a sale or advertisement that was unlawful or fraudulent
Provides for Reasonable Attorneys’ Fees
Plaintiffs need not pay attorneys’ fees out-of-pocket, some attorneys may insist upon a retainer before pursuing the claim, and other attorneys will take such a case on a contingency basis — any money they receive will result from a favorable decision.