Bar Journal - Spring 2004
The Consumer Protection & Antitrust Bureau: An Overview
By: Senior Asst. AG, M. Kristin Spath & Mia S. Poliquin, Legal Intern
The Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau ("the Bureau") of the Office of the Attorney General was first established in 1970 by passage of the "Regulation of Business Practices for Consumer Protection" (more commonly referred to as the Consumer Protection Act).1 The Bureau is responsible for ensuring that the Consumer Protection laws of New Hampshire are enforced, and that trades and businesses operating within the State of New Hampshire conform to governing statutes.2 The Act not only protects consumer-to-business transactions, but also, in many instances, business-to-business consumer transactions as well.3
The Bureau is responsible for the investigation, regulation, and enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act and Antitrust laws, and also for more than thirty other statutes. These statutes include enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Act, the Health Club Act, the Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, and the Condominium Act, some of which will be discussed in this article. One of the lesser-known and more interesting statutes also falling under the Bureau’s jurisdiction requires promoters and ticket agents to disclose lip-synching in musical performances prior to the ticket sale.4 Also lesser-known, but more practical, is a statute that requires Cable Franchises to notify their customers once a year of their right to "communicate their views" to the cable company and to the Bureau.5 Although a fair number of antitrust cases arise annually, typically in the form of multi-state actions, the majority of the Bureau’s caseload comes in the form of consumer-oriented issues.
The Administrative Prosecutions Unit ("the APU") is an arm of the Bureau. The APU is responsible for regularly investigating and prosecuting professional misconduct cases before state licensing boards. As you will learn later in this article, many of the cases handled by the APU involve significant issues of public safety and protection; as such, the APU is a vital part of the Bureau.
This article will outline the multiple functions of the Bureau. First, it will address direct services offered to consumers through education, outreach, and mediation. Next, it will illustrate the prosecutorial and enforcement powers of the Bureau and recent criminal and civil litigation. It will describe the regulatory role of the Bureau and the authority of the APU. Lastly, it will review recently enacted consumer related legislation.
II. PUBLIC EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Part of protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices is educating and empowering consumers so that they can protect themselves. The more educated consumers are about consumer law, the less likely they are to become victims of consumer fraud. To this end, the Bureau publishes the N.H. Consumer’s Sourcebook ("Sourcebook").6 The Sourcebook is available at no cost to consumers and provides a host of helpful information and tips for participating in today’s marketplace. Additionally, the Bureau maintains an informational website that contains the complete Sourcebook as well as press releases, instructions for filing a complaint, consumer alerts, brochures, and other consumer related updates and news. Complaint forms and other registration forms can be downloaded from the Bureau’s website at www.doj.nh.gov/consumer. Also provided on the website is a link to the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry.
The Bureau presents educational outreach programs to a variety of community groups with a focus on New Hampshire’s senior citizens. Programs are also available for high school students. The Bureau often partners with local police departments or other agencies to present these programs. In 2002, with the support of the Bureau’s volunteers, the Bureau offered over twenty outreach programs to area groups.7 Fifteen of these presentations were to senior citizens, a population often targeted by predatory businesses. Presentations to senior citizens typically focus on identifying legitimate solicitations, reducing the risk of identity theft, and telemarketing issues. Presentations to high school students typically cover topics such as purchasing used cars, cyber shopping, tenant’s rights, and building good credit. Since presentations are tailored to fit the needs of the group, the Bureau can effectively ascertain where the group is most vulnerable and then educate the group to lessen that vulnerability. The Bureau welcomes the opportunity to present outreach programs and encourages the reader to advise any appropriate groups of our availability.
III. CONSUMER COMPLAINTS AND THE MEDIATION PROGRAM
Generally, consumer issues are introduced to the Bureau through a consumer complaint. In most instances, a consumer calls the "hot line"8 and speaks to a consumer advocate.9 On average, the Bureau receives more than 20,000 telephone calls per year. Callers are advised that for the Bureau to handle a formal consumer complaint, it must be in writing. Oftentimes the consumer advocate is able to assist the caller immediately and no formal written complaint is necessary. However, if further attention is needed, this is accomplished either by a letter from the consumer with the necessary information, or by submission of a completed complaint form. In either instance, the received complaint is first reviewed by a paralegal. The paralegal is responsible for the initial assessment of the complaint and determines whether the complaint is something that the Bureau is capable of handling and/or mediating, or whether it should be referred to another New Hampshire agency, another state, small claims court, a private attorney, or kept on file for purposes of tracking patterns of business practices. Once the paralegal reviews the complaint, an attorney evaluates the substance of the complaint and the recommendation of the paralegal. The complaint undergoes a final evaluation by the Bureau Chief and it is then entered into the computer’s database for coding and further processing. It is not unusual for the Bureau to receive more than twenty written complaints per day.
The Bureau’s in-house mediation program is the primary method of resolving consumer complaints. The Bureau’s fifteen volunteers accomplish the mediation by telephone and/or letter. If the case is being referred to the mediation program, the business receives a copy of the complaint and is afforded an opportunity to respond. The program is voluntary on the part of the businesses; however, it is generally well received and cooperation and participation is high. When the response from the business is received, a mediator evaluates the case and determines whether mediation is possible. If the business has agreed to participate in the mediation, the mediator helps to facilitate an amicable resolution.
In the last two years, over 3,300 cases were referred to the mediation program and the Bureau recovered $473,433 in money, goods, or services for consumers through the mediation program.
In the event a consumer complaint is not coded for mediation, but rather is referred to another agency or small claims court, the consumer receives the appropriate information and, if possible, the names of individuals to contact to assist in resolving their claim. There are a small number of complaints received for which the Bureau cannot provide any resolution or referral. In those instances, consumers are informed that their information will be kept on file to track the business’s practices. Regardless of the ultimate coding of a complaint, most consumers also receive helpful brochures.
In 2002, the top five complaints received by the Bureau were problems with used car dealerships, building and home contractors, credit cards, telephone billing, and consumer purchases. In 2003, the top five complaints involved used car dealerships, debt collection, telemarketing, home contractors, and mail order merchandise. Notably, 2003 also saw a marked increase in the number of complaints dealing with Internet purchases both directly from companies and through Internet auction websites.
IV. ENFORCEMENT AND PROSECUTORIAL POWERS
The Consumer Protection Act allows the Bureau a broad range of options if violations of the Act are suspected. Administrative Enforcement by issuing an Administrative Subpoena is one vehicle available.10 If the Bureau has reason to believe that trade or commerce in violation of the Act is being or is about to be conducted, an Administrative Subpoena can be issued. The subpoena can require the production of documents and/or testimony and require a personal appearance from the business at the Office of the Attorney General.11 The Bureau uses the Administrative Subpoena quite frequently. In 2002 and 2003, the Bureau issued subpoenas to twenty-eight businesses, an all-time high. In most instances the pending consumer complaints were resolved, and in many cases, the businesses agreed to change their business practices to protect future consumers.
The Bureau also has the authority to file in Superior Court for temporary and permanent injunctions against businesses.12 Usually the Bureau refrains from using this action unless all other more informal approaches have been rejected or ignored by a business. A related tool, which is regularly used by the Bureau, is an Assurance of Discontinuance.13 This is when a business meets with the Bureau in either an informal setting or after receiving an Administrative Subpoena. In these instances, the Bureau does not go so far as to file an Injunction, but rather the business agrees to the Assurance, which is a formal document which typically includes an agreement from the business to change a business practice and/or remedy consumer complaints. This document is then placed on file in Superior Court.
Since it is often overlooked, it is worth noting that the Consumer Protection Act also creates a private right of action for consumers if they are harmed by a business’s violation of the Act.14 This provision authorizes attorney’s fees plus the greater of actual damages or $1,000 to prevailing plaintiffs.15 Moreover, in the case of a willful or knowing violation by a business, the statute authorizes two or three times the actual damages suffered by consumer plaintiffs.16 Class action suits are also permitted under the Act.17
A. Civil and Equity Actions
During the last two years, the Bureau has engaged in or concluded at least seven consumer protection civil lawsuits or other enforcement actions involving a variety of unfair and/or deceptive trade practices. The following are recent illustrative examples.
- James Moran Jr., High Peaks Roofing – An equity injunction was filed against this company for taking deposits from many consumers and either not completing or not starting the contracted for work. The court ordered Mr. Moran not to take any deposits from customers until he had "substantially completed" the work.18 Mr. Moran was also found guilty in criminal proceedings after a bench trial (see infra section B).
- Raymond Donahue, All Clear Pools – An equity action was initiated alleging deposits were taken for the delivery and/or installation of pools and/or spas and no work was performed. The civil action was stayed when Mr. Donahue filed for bankruptcy.19 Related criminal charges are currently pending as well (see infra section B).
- Roland White, SDI General Contracting – The Bureau filed an equity action against Roland White, Amy Paquette and their various businesses, alleging that they took over $300,000 from consumers, by taking deposits and either not performing any of the contracted for work or performing partial work but doing it in a shoddy manner, requiring the work to be redone by someone else.20 These charges are pending. White also pleaded guilty to fourteen felony charges (see infra section B).
- James Kenton, Pro-tite Corp. – This home contracting and roofing company was sued for unfair and deceptive business practices. A Settlement Agreement was reached and Kenton is making payments to satisfy a $10,000 civil penalty.21 This company was also charged criminally (see infra section B).
- Brian Duff, Best for Less Remodeling – The State filed an equity action against Mr. Duff and his home contracting business, alleging that he took deposits from consumers for home contracting services that were not sufficiently performed. Consumers asked for refunds of their deposits when the contracted for work was either not begun, partially performed, or performed in an unworkmanlike manner, but they were not given refunds. Trial in this matter is pending.22
- MicroSmart Technology Solutions, LLC – The Bureau obtained $50,000 for restitution to New Hampshire consumers who paid for computer technology training but did not receive it because the company went out of business and filed for bankruptcy.23
In the past two years, a total of $54,781.25 in restitution was secured for consumers through civil actions.
B. Criminal Prosecutions
Criminal prosecution of consumer protection violations continues to be a priority of the Bureau in an effort to protect the elderly and otherwise vulnerable citizens of New Hampshire. Unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of the Act are misdemeanors if committed by a natural person and felonies if committed by a business.24 The nature of the numerous complaints received by the Bureau has mandated that it focus its criminal prosecution efforts particularly on home contractors. The number of complaints the Bureau has received against home contractors in the last two years has increased significantly. This may be attributed in part to the fact that New Hampshire, unlike at least thirty-six other states,25 does not have a law specifically licensing contractors and placing certain restrictions on their business activities in order to protect consumers.26
In the last two years, the Bureau initiated fifty-six criminal charges, most against roofers and/or home contractors. Thirty-eight were felony indictments and eighteen were misdemeanors. The following are an illustrative sample.
- James Kenton, Pro-tite Corp., Christopher Robinson – This home contractor and roofer, his home contracting company, and an employee27 were charged with theft by deception and unfair and deceptive business practices. These indictments charged that Mr. Kenton and Pro-tite Corp. obtained approximately $13,000 from an elderly consumer for roofing services to her mobile home, when the services were, in reality, only worth approximately $8,000. Another indictment charged that Mr. Kenton and Pro-tite Corp. entered into two separate contracts with the same date, with the same elderly consumer, to provide her with duplicative roofing services. The consumer paid in full on both contracts.
- Defendant Kenton was also charged with Witness Tampering for threatening to sue a different consumer for slander if the consumer called the Attorney General’s Office to report dissatisfaction with Pro-tite Corp.’s business practices. Additionally, Mr. Kenton was charged with Falsifying Physical Evidence for destroying business records immediately prior to a visit to Pro-tite Corp. by investigators from the Bureau.
- On August 6, 2002, Mr. Kenton pleaded guilty to all charges at the Grafton County Superior Court and was sentenced to twelve months.28 He was fined $8,000, and ordered to pay a total of $25,375 restitution to the two victims of his criminal conduct.29 In addition, as part of the sentence, the court ordered Mr. Kenton and his wife, Maryellen Tiedemann, not to operate any home improvement or telemarketing business in the State of New Hampshire for a period of ten years.30
- Mr. Kenton also pleaded guilty on behalf of the business itself, Pro-tite Corp., which was sentenced on criminal charges including Theft by Deception and three charges of Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices.31 Pro-tite Corp. was sentenced to pay restitution in the amount of $50,000 to victims of its deceptive business practices32 and Kenton/Pro-tite agreed to pay $10,000 as a civil penalty (see supra section A).
- Marcus Kennison – This home contractor, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of Unfair or Deceptive Business Practices, alleging that he took money from consumers and failed to perform the agreed upon work. On March 7, 2003, he pleaded guilty to the three misdemeanors and was sentenced to jail and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $31,055.33
- James Moran, Jr. – Mr. Moran was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of Unfair or Deceptive Business Practices and eight other charges are pending.34 Mr. Moran took over $26,000 from consumers and either failed to perform the work and failed to make refunds, or performed partial work only. The charges also alleged that Mr. Moran continued to take deposits from consumers, in violation of the court’s order in his related equity court case (see supra section A). Mr. Moran was sentenced to twelve months at the House of Corrections, ordered to pay $2,800 in restitution, and may not operate a home contracting business for ten years.35
- Roger Gingras, Landmark Fence – Three felony indictments against Roger Gingras and his business were filed charging Theft by Deception. The charges stemmed from Mr. Gingras taking money from consumers and then failing to perform the agreed upon work and failing to refund deposits. He pleaded guilty to these charges and was ordered to pay restitution totaling $13,900 to five consumers.36
- Roland W. White, SDI General Contracting, Amy Paquette – Mr. White, President of SDI General Contracting, Inc. pleaded guilty to multiple charges of Theft by Unauthorized Taking and Conspiracy to Commit Theft.37 The Bureau’s investigation into Roland White, Amy Paquette and their business practices began when numerous complaints were received by the Bureau from consumers alleging that White and/or Paquette took deposits in advance of performing services and then failed to perform the services; did so in an unworkmanlike manner; failed to pay subcontractors, resulting in a lien being placed on a consumer’s home; and/or disconnected their business telephone numbers and moved to another business location without notifying consumers. The indictments alleged that White and SDI General Contracting, Inc. exercised unauthorized control over deposits obtained from consumers, by failing to refund the deposits after they had failed to perform the agreed upon work and the consumers had asked for their money back. Although White told the consumers that he would refund their deposits, he failed to do so, even though he had performed none of the agreed upon services. White was sentenced to 2 ½ to 5 years in prison.38
- Indictments were also returned against Amy L. Paquette, the Vice President of SDI General Contracting, Inc., charging her with Conspiracy to Commit Theft. These charges are pending.39
- Raymond Donahue – Six felony indictments against Raymond Donahue are pending, including charges of Issuing Bad Checks and Theft. Raymond Donahue conducted his pool business under a variety of business names, and acted as a dealer at a home show for a company that manufactured spas. Four of the theft indictments allege that Mr. Donahue took in excess of $13,000 from consumers and failed to either deliver the contracted for product and/or services and failed to refund deposits to consumers. Trial is pending in these matters.40
- Brian Duff, Best for Less Remodeling – The State filed three misdemeanor charges against Brian Duff and his business alleging unfair or deceptive business practices. Trial in these matters is pending.41
Over $128,368.32 in restitution has been ordered returned to New Hampshire consumers as a result of these cases.
C. Multi-State Litigations and Antitrust Suits
The Bureau is often called upon to stand as a party representing the State of New Hampshire in multi-state litigation. In these roles, the staff attorneys ensure that the citizens of New Hampshire are adequately protected by settlements or other litigation that results from such cases. During the last two years, the Bureau participated in a number of multi-state actions in conjunction with many other states. The actions involved both antitrust42 violations and unfair and deceptive trade practices. The resulting Settlement Agreements secured $3,761,982.54 in restitution for New Hampshire consumers and over $1,233,978.50 in penalties, attorneys’ fees and/or cost recoveries for the State. Those settlements include the following:
- Bridgestone/Firestone – This suit involved a tire recall issue and Bridgestone/Firestone’s treatment of consumers. New Hampshire received a settlement payment of $530,000.43
- Mylan Laboratories – This was an Antitrust Settlement for illegal agreements with drug companies that monopolized the drug market resulting in price increases from 1,900% to 3,000%. The State recovered $27,317, which was returned to the New Hampshire State Prison and New Hampshire State Hospital for their losses from paying the inflated prices for drugs required for their patients/inmates. Additionally, the General Fund received $17,441 in penalties. The total payment received for New Hampshire was $44,758.44
- Triad Discount Buying Services – This company misled consumers into accepting trial club memberships and obtained customers’ billing information from telemarketers without consumers’ knowledge. Seven hundred and forty-nine New Hampshire consumers received a total of $24,751.18 in restitution. In addition, the State received $2,500 in attorney’s fees and costs.45
- Publishers Clearing House – The final restitution installment was issued to New Hampshire consumers in the amount of $46,231.54. In 2000, a settlement was reached as the result of unfair and deceptive trade practices. During the last two years, the State also received civil penalty payments in the amount of $58,037.50 from this Settlement Agreement.46
- Ford Motor Company – This Settlement was the result of unfair and deceptive trade practices relating to the sale and advertising of Ford Sport Utility Vehicles. New Hampshire has received a civil payment in the amount of $300,000.47
- Taxol – Bristol-Myers Squibb was charged with pharmaceutical price-fixing48 of the drug Taxol. New Hampshire received $291,000 for the general fund.49
- BuSpar – New Hampshire consumers received $100,000 restitution from Bristol-Meyers Squibb in a suit for price-fixing of the drug BuSpar.50
- Salton, Inc. – In this antitrust action against George Foreman Grills for price-fixing, New Hampshire received approximately $35,000 in a cy-pres award, to be used for consumer education.51
- Cardizem – New Hampshire consumers received approximately $91,000 in restitution for pharmaceutical price-fixing of the drug Cardizem.52
- Household International – The Bureau worked together with the Banking Department and other states to achieve a settlement related to claims of unfair or deceptive lending practices by this sub-prime lender. Approximately $3.5 million will be returned to New Hampshire consumers pursuant to this settlement.53
1. Tobacco Settlement
In addition to the above cases, there are continuing developments in the case against the tobacco industry. In 1998, the Attorneys General for New Hampshire and most other U.S. states and territories entered into the Master Settlement Agreement with the major manufacturers of cigarettes and other tobacco-related products.54 This Settlement Agreement was to resolve outstanding claims for smoking-related health care treatment and challenges to industry advertising and sales practices. In fiscal years 2002 and 2003, the State of New Hampshire received approximately $96,700,500 in tobacco settlement revenue.
The Master Settlement Agreement also requires the State to diligently enforce its model Non-Participating Manufacturer55 ("NPM") statute.56 This act seeks to ensure that manufacturers who have not settled with the states have established procedures and funding programs that will guarantee the availability of money to pay the states in the event a state brings a claim against one of these NPMs.57 The statute mandates the funds be placed in escrow accounts,58 and be available to the State to settle qualifying claims.59 The Participating Manufacturers advocated having these statutes included as part of the Settlement Agreement to assure a level playing field between them and the NPMs in the competitive market.
In order to streamline administration and enforcement of the NPM statute, the Bureau worked with the legislature and Department of Revenue to enact N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 541-D, which requires NPMs to be certified as compliant with the NPM statute before their products can be sold in the State.60 The Bureau’s attorneys work regularly with the Department of Revenue to ensure compliance with both of the aforementioned statutes. Additionally, the Bureau worked with other states to achieve assurances of discontinuance with Exxon-Mobil, Walgreen’s, BP-Amoco, and Wal-Mart to ensure that these operators of stores take extra efforts to prevent tobacco product sales to minors.
2. Antitrust Investigations
The Bureau also participates in antitrust investigations that do not result in direct and immediate financial gain for the State or consumers. Oftentimes, the Bureau becomes involved in order to prevent a monopoly from forming before harm is done. The following are some recent examples of antitrust investigations. Additionally, the Bureau is involved in investigating other mergers, but since those investigations are on going, they are confidential.
- Suiza-Dean – New Hampshire joined with other states and the U.S. Department of Justice in investigating the merger of these dairy and food processing giants. As a result, the merging parties were subjected to requirements that they divest themselves of certain holdings prior to the merger, resulting in a smaller merged entity and more competitors.
- Hughes-Echostar – New Hampshire joined other states in investigating if a merger between these satellite television providers would result in a monopoly in rural areas where satellite is the only form of premium television programming. The merger was abandoned.
V. REGISTRATION AND REGULATION
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 21-M:9, II establishes the duties of the Bureau to include administration and enforcement of at least fourteen other laws above and beyond the Consumer Protection Act and antitrust laws. In addition to those specifically stated in this statute, there are many other laws that fall under the guise of the Bureau. They are too numerous to mention all of them in this article. Many require certain businesses to register with the Bureau and to adhere to certain statutorily mandated rules. The registration process is a preventative measure the Bureau uses to regulate specific businesses that have the potential to harm consumers on a large scale. The registration requirements are targeted to prevent future harm and put the consumers and businesses on ground that is more equal. Some of the more prominent registration and regulatory laws are discussed below.
A. Land Sales Full Disclosure Act61 and Condominium Act62
The Bureau is responsible for registering most condominium and subdivision developments in the State of New Hampshire. The Bureau’s paralegals and attorneys review applications for registration for both condominium and subdivision developments, and decide, based upon the statutorily required information submitted, whether the proposed developments are viable and sufficiently financed to ensure completion. This is detailed and time-consuming work, with a statutorily imposed 60-day deadline to meet.63 After 60 days, the development is automatically approved unless the registrant receives notice of a deficiency. In recent years, the Bureau has imposed an internal deadline of either registering a project or issuing a letter of deficiency within thirty days, as a courtesy to developers.
Selling lots in a subdivision before completing the statutorily mandated registration is a violation of the law64 and the Bureau can petition the Court for an injunction and/or other relief. For example, in 2002, an injunction was filed in Cheshire County Superior Court against a developer who sold nine lots in a sixteen-lot subdivision before registering with the Bureau. In addition to the injunction, a $5,000 fine was imposed against the developer.65 During the last two years, the Bureau issued 203 certificates of registration or exemptions for subdivisions under the Land Sales Full Disclosure Act and 161 certificates of registration or exemptions under the Condominium Act.
Of concern to the Bureau is that it appears many developers, title companies, and real estate agents are unaware of these statutes. Recently the Bureau has noted an increase in the number of developers who have not registered prior to selling lots and/or units.
B. Health Club Registration66
Health clubs67 are required to register with the Bureau annually. For purposes of registration, the definition of Health Club includes weight loss clinics and martial arts schools.68 To fulfill this requirement, the club completes an extensive registration form that is then reviewed by Bureau staff. If it is determined that the club has received greater than $5,000 in pre-paid memberships, the club must also post a bond or other security with the Bureau to protect their members’ funds.69 Clubs that take only month-to-month memberships are exempt from the bonding requirement.70 If a club fails to meet the applicable requirements, a deficiency letter is sent and the club is generally given a minimum of two weeks to comply, or penalties from the Consumer Protection Act may be used to enforce compliance.
Over two hundred health clubs were registered in 2002 and 2003, including forty-three martial arts schools and four weight loss clinics. In the last two years, the Bureau has also increased its efforts to enforce the State’s registration and bonding requirements. To this end, non-compliant clubs were identified and 305 letters of deficiencies were issued. Additionally, ten requests for temporary injunctions against health clubs were filed with the Court. All actions ultimately resulted in compliance with the law.
C. Distributorship Disclosure Act71
The Bureau registers businesses that sell "vending machines, racks, display cases, or other similar devices"72 as business opportunities. Thirteen distributorships registered with the Bureau in 2002 and 2003. The grantors of these distributorships must file a one-time registration with the Bureau and pay a $50 fee.73 Thereafter, the grantor is required by law to notify the Bureau of any changes in the information provided in the registration.74 The law requires an extensive amount of information in the registration, although the main purpose is to ensure grantors make certain disclosures to the distributors, including the distributor’s right to void the agreement if certain information remains undisclosed.75 A violation of the Distributorship Disclosure Act constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act and remedies available under that act apply here, including a private right of action with possible award of attorney’s fees and two or three times any damages.76
D. Automatic Telephone Dialing Systems77
The Bureau registers businesses or persons who use automatic telephone dialing systems for solicitation in New Hampshire. The owner of the system must register with the Bureau at least ten business days prior to using the system and pay a $20 fee per year.78 Twenty-one automatic telephone dialers registered with the Bureau during the last two years. The statute provides that all calls must be randomly generated in unequal intervals and that they must not interfere with any designated emergency lines.79 These automated calls must automatically disconnect within thirty seconds after the called party hangs up.80 Additionally, the solicitor is prohibited from blocking its caller identification information.81 A violation of these provisions constitutes an unfair and deceptive act and violators are subject to penalties under the Consumer Protection Act’s provisions.82
E. Prescription Discount Cards83
As of January 1, 2002, any company offering non-insurance discount prescription drug cards is required by law to register with the Bureau.84 Since that time, twenty-three companies have properly registered. These companies are required to provide a certified statement that contains their intention to offer the card, contact information of the company, and verification that any promotional advertising clearly expresses that the card is only good at participating pharmacies and that it is not an insurance card.85 Furthermore, the promotional material must not contain any misleading or deceptive claims.86 Entities that violate these provisions are subject to penalties under the Consumer Protection Act.87
VI. ADMINISTRATIVE PROSECUTIONS UNIT
The Administrative Prosecutions Unit ("the APU") serves to protect the integrity of professions and prevent licensed professionals from injuring or causing any type of harm to citizens of New Hampshire. The APU was initially formed to help the Medical Board, but it now regularly investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct cases before the following New Hampshire licensing bodies:88 the Board of Allied Health Professions, the Board of Chiropractic Examiners, the Board of Dental Examiners, the Joint Board of Licensure and Certification, the Board of Medicine, the Board of Mental Health Practice, the Board of Pharmacy, and the Board of Veterinary Medicine. These Boards contract for services with the APU. During the last two years, the Bureau’s attorneys and an investigator also investigated and/or prosecuted cases for the Board of Accountancy, the Real Estate Appraiser Board, the Board of Barbering, Cosmetology and Aesthetics, and the Board of Nursing Home Administrators.
When a client of a licensed professional files a meritorious complaint with the applicable licensing Board, the complaint is referred to the APU. The complaint is investigated and then a recommendation is made based on the results of the investigation and the opinions of any experts involved in the case. If the case requires an adjudicatory proceeding, the attorneys within the APU are responsible for acting as Hearing Counsel before the boards. They present evidence to enable the board to decide whether the allegations contained within the complaint are true or have been proven, and, if so, what disciplinary action should be imposed upon the licensee.
Many of the cases handled by APU involve significant issues of public safety and protection. The following are some of the more significant cases recently handled by the APU.
- The Physical Therapy Governing Board of the Board of Allied Health Professions sanctioned a licensed physical therapist that engaged in unprofessional conduct by committing boundary violations and sexual contact with multiple juvenile patients. His license was revoked for no less than five years, and a $2,000 fine was imposed. Prior to relicensure, he must, among other things, participate in counseling for a minimum period of one year and undergo evaluations by an expert experienced in treating practitioners who have been involved in sexual misconduct. He will not be re-licensed until the Board is satisfied that it is appropriate to permit him to practice physical therapy. Upon relicensure, his practice will be subject to restrictions intended to safeguard the public and prevent further abuses.
- The Board of Dental Examiners sanctioned a licensed dentist who engaged in unprofessional conduct by entering embarrassing and inaccurate facts within the dental record, witness tampering, and providing false statements during the course of the Board’s investigation. He received a reprimand and a $4,000 fine. He was also required to participate in a continuing education course entitled "Ethics and Professional Misconduct."
- The Board of Medicine sanctioned a licensed physician for engaging in unprofessional conduct by way of boundary violations and sexual contact with a patient, and for being implicated in her death. His license was revoked and he is forbidden from applying for medical licensure in the State of New Hampshire or any other state at any time in the future.
- The Board of Veterinary Medicine sanctioned a veterinarian that assaulted a fellow employee. She was sanctioned in the form of a one-year stayed suspension conditioned upon the licensee submitting to a forensic evaluation, attending anger management counseling, paying a $250 fine, and having a five-year restriction on her license mandating that she not engage in the private practice of veterinary medicine.
- The Board of Dental Examiners sanctioned a licensed dentist who engaged in unprofessional conduct by fraudulently issuing at least fifty prescriptions for controlled drugs to patients of record under the name of a fellow dentist, all for self-consumption, totaling over 750 tablets. His license was suspended with reinstatement conditioned upon his meaningful and active participation in the substance abuse program of the New Hampshire Dental Society. In addition, he must submit to random urine testing for a period of no less than five years; submit to evaluation by a Board-approved psychologist or psychiatrist for substance abuse and addiction, to be repeated two years and four years after his license reinstatement; pay a $5,000 fine; and surrender his DEA license for five years.
VII. RECENT LEGISLATION
A. Do Not Call Registry
The last Session of the New Hampshire General Court included a number of important consumer issues. Of utmost importance was the passage of a State Do Not Call Regulation. After failing to pass Do Not Call Legislation on at least four previous occasions, the first session of the 2003 Legislature passed Senate Bill 98, "an act prohibiting telemarketers from contacting customers on a Federal Do Not Call Registry."89 It became law this past fall.90 The law requires that telemarketers comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule for telemarketing sales calls made within the State.91 In essence, New Hampshire telemarketers may not call any New Hampshire consumer who has signed up on the Federal Do Not Call Registry, with a few exceptions.
Under the New Hampshire statute, newspapers are exempt,92 as well as small business owners, provided no more than five telephone calls per month are made for telemarketing purposes.93 The New Hampshire bill also exempts telephone calls made on behalf of political campaigns, except those calls made on behalf of a political campaign by a vendor using automatic dialing equipment.94 Automated calls are considered telemarketing sales calls and must comply with the statute. It is worth noting, however, that the Federal Communications Commission ("the FCC") has also adopted Do Not Call Regulations. Because the FCC has jurisdiction over both in-state and out-of-state telemarketer calls, the exemptions stated in the New Hampshire law are preempted by the FCC’s Federal Rules because the New Hampshire exemption are not recognized exemptions under the FCC’s Rule. To date, more than 275,893 New Hampshire consumers have signed up on the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry.95 It is expected that the statute will be enforced mostly in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission.
B. Gift Cards
Gift certificate and gift card protection for New Hampshire consumers was strengthened during this last Session as well. Until this past Session, the Consumer Protection Act did not include a definition of the term "gift certificate."96 With the introduction of electronic "gift cards," it became necessary to make it clear that under the law gift cards are to be regarded the same as what has now become old-fashioned paper gift certificates. A suitable definition of "gift certificate" is now included in the law.97 House Bill 25998 made it illegal for gift cards to include any dormancy fees, latency fees or any kind of administrative or service charge that has the effect of reducing the total amount of a gift certificate.99 For example, many cards state that after six or twelve months of non-use a $2.00 per month dormancy fee is charged. As of January 1, 2004, this is illegal and consumers in New Hampshire will be allowed to keep and use the full value of the card.
C. Independent Living Communities
A recently enacted important law establishes standards for disclosure of information to consumers of the costs and services provided by elderly housing facilities, including independent living communities and assisted living residences.100 This disclosure of information enables consumers to make informed choices and comparisons when choosing housing. The law establishes rules governing advance payments, rate increases, termination of agreements, and the rights and responsibilities of residents.101 The new law also requires any entity operating an independent living retirement community to file an annual registration statement with the Consumer Protection Bureau.102 The registration statement must include the name and address of the community, the name and address of the registered agent, and a complete description of the type of all available services.103 This registration statement must also be filed with the Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Health Facilities Administration.104
D. Consumer Protection Act Exemptions
The Consumer Protection Act and legitimate businesses can, and do, easily co-exist in the State of New Hampshire. Nevertheless, certain industries and businesses believe they should be exempt from the Act. Just who is and who is not exempt under the Act has been the subject of many New Hampshire Supreme Court cases and many pieces of both passed and defeated legislation. The exemptions to the Consumer Protection Act originally made exempt "[t]rade or commerce otherwise permitted under laws as administered by any regulatory board or officer acting under statutory authority of this state or of the United States; . . ."105 The New Hampshire Supreme Court has alternated between two conflicting interpretations of this provision. Briefly, the history of this controversy is as follows.
In one interpretation, the Court concentrated on whether the "trade or commerce" was subject to a state regulatory authority and held exempt entire industries that may be regulated by a state or federal regulatory board.106 This interpretation drove the 1986 ruling in Rousseau v. Eshelman, where the Court held that attorneys are exempt from the Consumer Protection Act because of the Court’s supervision over the bar via the professional conduct committee and required bar membership.107 Further, the Court implied that its reasoning applied to any industry that was the subject of a state or federal regulatory body.108
The other, conflicting, interpretation concentrated on the phrase "[t]he following transactions shall be exempt," and required the Court to determine whether the actual transaction that the plaintiff complained of was "otherwise permitted" by any regulatory agency. Under this analysis, in 1992, in Gilmore v. Bradgate Associates,109 the Court held that even though the defendant realtor was regulated by the New Hampshire Real Estate Commission, the defendant’s alleged deceptive acts were not specifically permitted by the Board of Realtors, and as such, the plaintiff’s case was allowed to go forward.110 Thus, the Court set out a new rule, and one that significantly strengthened the Consumer Protection Act by narrowing the exemption established in Rousseau.
Then in 2000, the Court decided the case of Averill v. Cox.111 As in Rousseau, the Court confronted a case in which the defendant was an attorney whose former client brought a complaint based on the Consumer Protection Act. Also the same as in Rousseau, the Court held that the proper analysis of the exemption clause centered around the "trade or commerce" clause rather than the "transactions" clause, and overturned Gilmore and reinstated its holding in Rousseau.112 Thus, post Averill, the law was that entire types of businesses were exempt.113 This sparked a flurry of legislative activity as consumer advocates sought to legislatively reinstate the interpretation set out in Gilmore. The legislature instituted a study committee to review the state of the Consumer Protection Act and to propose legislation as needed.
Out of that study committee came the most recent bill, which, in its final form, greatly broadened the exemption clause.114 The law now exempts "[t]rade or commerce that is subject to the jurisdiction of the bank commissioner, the director of securities regulation, the insurance commissioner, the public utilities commission, the financial institutions and insurance regulators of other states, or federal banking or securities regulators who possess the authority to regulate unfair or deceptive trade practices."115 At least one House116 and one Senate117 bill remain alive currently, so even more changes to the exemption clause are likely.
E. Increased Staffing for Bureau
In 2001, the Legislature passed a bill establishing a Study Committee to review the Consumer Protection effort in the State of New Hampshire.118 It became clear during the hearings that the Consumer Protection Bureau was a very needed and well-used service, but more staff was required. A key recommendation of the Study Committee was adopted by both the House and the Senate by virtue of their enactment of House Bill 1437, "an Act relative to increasing the staff in the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau of the Department of Justice."119
The law that followed permits the Attorney General to add additional staff to the Bureau.120 Currently the Bureau is staffed with five attorneys, four paralegals, two investigators and four legal secretaries. Additionally, fifteen volunteers each contribute six hours per week to the Bureau answering the Consumer Hotline and mediating cases. The law allows for the addition of three more Assistant Attorney Generals, two more Paralegals, and one additional Legal Secretary.121 Nonetheless, the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau remains committed to vigilantly and vigorously protecting New Hampshire citizens.
- For a historical overview of the Consumer Protection Act, see generally Peter W. Mosseau and Margaret H. Nelson, New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act: An Overview and Recent Interpretive Trends, 35 N.H.B.J. 39 (March, 1994). However, the reader should be aware that some statutory provisions have been amended since the publication of the article.
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:4 (West 1995 & Supp. 2002) provides that the Consumer Protection Act be administered and enforced by the Bureau but incorrectly states that the Bureau was established by N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 21-M:8 when it is actually established by N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 21-M:9 (West 2000).
- Milford Lumber Co. Inc., v. RCB Realty Inc., 147 N.H. 15, 780 A.2d 1259 (N.H. 2001).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 357-F:1, et seq. (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 53-C:3-d (West 1991).
- Elizabeth M. Dolan & the N.H. Dept. of Justice, Off. of the Atty. Gen., New Hampshire Consumer’s Sourcebook, (2d ed., 2001).
- Specific facts, tallies, and monetary totals throughout the article were obtained from the Bureau’s internal Biennial Report for fiscal year 2002 and 2003.
- The Bureau’s hot line number is (603) 271-3641.
- Within the Bureau, fifteen volunteer "Consumer Affairs Specialists" spend a minimum of six hours per week answering consumer calls, providing referral resources, and mediating disputes between consumers and businesses. The volunteers are a vital part of the Bureau’s operations and the mediation program would not be as effective without them.
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:8 (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:8, II (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:4, III(a) (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:7 (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:10 (West 1995).
- Id. (emphasis added).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:10-a (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- State of N.H. v. James Moran & High Peaks Roofing, 01-E-279 (Sull. Cty. Super. Ct. Aug. 13, 2001).
- State of N.H. v. Raymond E. Donahue, 02-E-350, (Hills. Cty. Super. Ct. pending).
- State of N.H. v. Roland White & Amy Paquette, 03-E-0009 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. pending).
- State of N.H. v. James Kenton & Pro-tite Corp., 02-E-0091 (Graf. Cty. Super. Ct. Mar. 31, 2003).
- State of N.H. v. Brian Duff, 03-E-0347 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. pending).
- State of N.H., Ex Rel Certain Consumer Claimants v. MicroSmart Technology Solutions, 03-E-0370 (Rock. Cty. Super. Ct. June 23, 2003).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:6 (West 1995).
- Federal Trade Commission, Home Sweet Home Improvement <http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/services/homeimpv.htm> (accessed October 22, 2003).
- For example, Massachusetts is one state that has enacted a Home Improvement Contractor Law. Mass. Gen. Laws ch.142, § 1 et seq. For a general discussion of this law, see Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Home Improvement Contractor Law <http://www.state.ma.us/homeimprovement/index.htm> (accessed October 22, 2003).
- State of N.H. v. Christopher Robinson, 01-S-609, 610 (Graf. Cty. Super. Ct. Oct. 9, 2002).
- State of N.H. v. James Kenton, 02-S-153 – 156 (Graf. Cty. Super. Ct. Aug. 6, 2002).
- State of N.H. v. Pro-tite Corp., 02-S-162, 01-S-605, 607, 608 (Graf. Cty. Super. Ct. Aug. 6, 2002).
- State of N.H. v. Marcus Kennison, 02-S-903 – 907 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. Mar. 7, 2003).
- State of N.H. v. James Moran, 02-S-167 – 174, 02-S-285 – 289 (Sull. Cty. Super. Ct. Nov. 12, 2003).
- State of N.H. v. Roger Gingras, 03-S-209, 211, 212 (Hills. N. Cty. Super. Ct. Jan. 20, 2003).
- State of N.H. v. Roland White, 03-S-279 – 292 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. Nov. 10, 2003); State of N.H. v. Roland White, 03-S-1051– 1054 (Hills. N. Cty. Super. Ct. Nov. 14, 2003).
- State of N.H. v. Amy Paquette, 03-S-293 – 294 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. pending); State of N.H. v. Amy Paquette, 03-S-1015 – 1018 (Hills. N. Cty. Super. Ct. pending).
- State of N.H. v. Raymond E. Donahue, 02-S-2054 – 2060 (Hills. N. Cty. Super. Ct. pending).
- State of N.H. v. Brian Duff d.b.a. Best for Less Remodeling, 03-S-1801 – 1803 (Hills. N. Cty. Super. Ct. pending).
- The Bureau is charged with enforcement of antitrust laws pursuant to N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 21:M:9, II(s) (West 2000).
- State of N.H. v. Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., 01-E-409 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. Nov. 16, 2001).
- State of Conn., et. al. v. Mylan Lab. Inc., et. al., MC-99-276 (U.S. Dist. Ct. DC, pending).
- State of N.H. v. Triad Discount Buying Svs., 01-E-390 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. Oct. 25, 2001).
- State of N.H. v. Publishers Clearing House, 00-E-0296 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. Sept. 6, 2000).
- State of N.H. v. Ford Motor Corp., 02-E-391 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. Jan. 3, 2003).
- Price-fixing is defined as "[a] combination formed for the purpose of and with the effect of raising, depressing, fixing, pegging, or stabilizing the price of a commodity. The cooperative setting of price levels or range by competing firms, which would otherwise be set by natural market forces. . .. Such agreements are in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act." Black’s Law Dictionary 825 (abridged 6th ed., West 1991). The Sherman Antitrust Act can be found at 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 1-7 (West 1997).
- State of Ohio, et. al. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Case No. 02-1080 (U.S. Dist. Ct. DC May 13, 2003).
- State of Ala., et. al. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., et. al., Case No. 01-cv-11401 (U.S. Dist. Ct. S.D.N.Y. pending).
- State of N.Y., et. al. v. Salton, Inc., 02-cv-7096 (U.S. Dist. Ct. S.D.N.Y. June 2, 2003).
- In Re Cardizem CD Antitrust Litigation, 99-MD-1278 (U.S. Dist. Ct. E. Dist. Mich. S. Div. June 6, 2000).
- State of N.H. v. Household International, 02-E-0379 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. Dec. 16, 2002).
- Master Settle. Agreement, State of N.H. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. et. al. 97-E-0165 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. Dec. 11, 1998).
- Participating Manufacturers are those fitting the definition in Master Settle. Agreement at § II(jj), State of N.H. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. et. al. 97-E-0165 (Merr. Cty. Super. Ct. Dec. 11, 1998). All others are Non-Participating Manufacturers.
- Codified as N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 541-C:1, et seq. (West Supp. 2002).
- These would be claims similar to the claims the states brought against the major manufacturers that were settled by the Master Settlement Agreement.
- N.H. Rev. Stat Ann. § 541-C:3, I(b) (West Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 541-C:3, II(a) (West Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 541-D:3, I(c) (effective Jan. 1, 2004).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 356-A (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 356-B (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 356-A:8, I (West 1995 & Supp. 2002); N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 356-B:54, I (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 356-A:4, I (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- State of N.H. v. Perry Kiritsy, 02-E-0139 (Ches. Cty. Super. Ct. Dec. 3, 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-I (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- Health club is identified as an "establishment which provides services or facilities which purport to improve or maintain the user’s physical condition or appearance through weight control, exercise, dieting, or a combination of these. The term includes, but is not limited to, establishments referred to by such terms as reducing salon, spa, exercise club, exercise gym, health studio, health club, weight control center, or other similar term and includes any establishment primarily operated for the purpose of teaching a form or forms of self defense such as judo or karate. As used in this chapter, the term "health club’’ shall not include, and this chapter shall not apply to services rendered by:
(a) Any nonprofit public or private school, college, or university;
(b) The state, or any of its political subdivisions;
(c) Any nonprofit religious, ethnic, community, or service organization; or
(d) Any establishment which does not have as one of its primary purposes or businesses the provision of health club services or facilities." N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-I:1, IV (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-I:2 (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-E (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-E:1, II, (a)(1) (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-E:3, III (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-E:3, VI (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-E:4 (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:10 (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E (West 1995).,
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E:2, I (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E:2, III (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E:4 (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E:5-a (West Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E:6 (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-R (West Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-R:1 (West Supp. 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-R:3 (West Supp. 2002).
- The Bureau is charged with this duty pursuant to N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 21-M:9, II(u, ) (West 2000).
- N.H. SB 98, 158th Leg., 1st Sess. (Mar. 13, 2003).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E (effective Sept. 16, 2003).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E:8, II (effective Sept. 16, 2003).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E:7, XI(d) (effective Sept. 16, 2003) exempts newspapers but the bill includes a prospective repeal of that section to take effect on Aug. 1, 2006. Thereafter, newspapers will no longer be exempt.
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E:7, X (effective Sept. 16, 2003).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 359-E:7, XI(e) (effective Sept. 16, 2003).
- Federal Trade Commission, National Do Not Call Registry- Total Registrations as of September 16, 2003 <http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/09/030917dncstates.pdf> (accessed Dec. 4, 2003).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 358-A:1 (West 1995).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:1, IV-a (effective Jan. 1, 2004) defines "gift certificate" as "a written promise given in exchange for payment to provide the bearer, upon presentation, goods or services in a specified amount."
- N.H. HB 259, 158th Leg., 1st Sess. (Jan. 9, 2003).
- Codified as N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:2, XIII (effective Jan. 1, 2004).
- N.H. SB 34, 158th Leg., 1st Sess. (Mar. 26, 2003). Codified as N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 161-J (effective Jan. 1, 2004).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 161-J:1 (effective Jan. 1, 2004).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 161-J:10 (effective Jan. 1, 2004).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 358-A:3 (West 1995 & Supp. 2002)
- Rousseau v. Eshelman, 128 N.H. 564 (1986), reh’g den. 129 N.H. 306 (1987).
- 128 N.H. at 567.
- Gilmore v. Bradgate Associates, 135 N.H. 234 (1992).
- 135 N.H. at 238.
- Averill v. Cox, 145 N.H. 328 (2000).
- 145 N.H. at 332.
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:3 (West 1995 & Supp. 2002).
- N.H. HB 1429, 157th Leg., 2nd Sess. (Jan. 17, 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A:3, I (effective July 17, 2002).
- N.H. HB 771, 158th Leg., 1st Sess. (Jan. 30, 2003).
- N.H. SB 207, 158th Leg., 1st Sess. (Jan. 30, 2003).
- N.H. HB 109, 157th Leg., 1st Sess. (Jan. 3, 2001).
- N.H. HB 1437, 157th Leg., 2nd Sess. (Jan. 24, 2002).
- N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 118 (effective July 1, 2003).
Attorney Kristin M. Spath is a Senior Assistant Attorney General and the Bureau Chief of the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau at the Department of Justice, Concord, New Hampshire.
Ms. Mia Poliquin is a legal intern at the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau, supported by a grant from the Public Interest Coalition, and will receive her J.D. from Franklin Pierce Law Center in May 2004. Poliquin was the 2004 Sulloway & Hollis Public Interest Fellow.