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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

Key: (1) language to be deleted (2) new language

  

                         Laws of Minnesota 1989 

                        CHAPTER 294-S.F.No. 536 
           An act relating to consumer protection; providing for 
          enhanced civil penalties for deceptive acts targeted 
          at senior citizens or handicapped persons; providing 
          factors a court may consider in determining to impose 
          an enhanced civil penalty; providing that sums 
          collected must be credited to the account of the state 
          board on aging; amending Minnesota Statutes 1988, 
          section 256.975, by adding a subdivision; proposing 
          coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 325F.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
    Section. 1.  Minnesota Statutes 1988, section 256.975, is 
amended by adding a subdivision to read: 
    Subd. 5.  [PROGRAMS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS AND HANDICAPPED 
PERSONS.] Any sums collected under section 2 must be deposited 
into the state treasury and credited to the account of the state 
board on aging.  The money credited to the account of the state 
board on aging is annually appropriated to the state board on 
aging and shall be expended for the following purposes: 
    (1) to prepare and distribute educational materials to 
inform senior citizens, handicapped persons, and the public 
regarding consumer protection laws and consumer rights that are 
of particular interest to senior citizens and handicapped 
persons; or 
    (2) to underwrite educational seminars and other forms of 
educational projects for the benefit of senior citizens and 
handicapped persons. 
    Sec. 2.  [325F.71] [SENIOR CITIZENS AND HANDICAPPED 
PERSONS; ADDITIONAL CIVIL PENALTY FOR DECEPTIVE ACTS.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [DEFINITIONS.] For the purposes of this 
section, the following words have the meanings given them: 
    (a) "Senior citizen" means a person who is 62 years of age 
or older. 
    (b) "Handicapped person" means a person who has an 
impairment of physical or mental function or emotional status 
that substantially limits one or more major life activities. 
    (c) "Major life activities" means functions such as caring 
for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, 
hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. 
    Subd. 2.  [SUPPLEMENTAL CIVIL PENALTY.] (a) In addition to 
any liability for a civil penalty pursuant to Minnesota 
Statutes, sections 325D.43 to 325D.48, regarding deceptive trade 
practices; 325F.67, regarding false advertising; and 325F.68 to 
325F.70, regarding consumer fraud; a person who engages in any 
conduct prohibited by those statutes, and whose conduct is 
perpetrated against one or more senior citizens or handicapped 
persons, is liable for an additional civil penalty not to exceed 
$10,000 for each violation, if one or more of the factors in 
paragraph (b) are present. 
    (b) In determining whether to impose a civil penalty 
pursuant to paragraph (a), and the amount of the penalty, the 
court shall consider, in addition to other appropriate factors, 
the extent to which one or more of the following factors are 
present: 
    (1) whether the defendant knew or should have known that 
the defendant's conduct was directed to one or more senior 
citizens or handicapped persons; 
    (2) whether the defendant's conduct caused senior citizens 
or handicapped persons to suffer:  loss or encumbrance of a 
primary residence, principal employment, or source of income; 
substantial loss of property set aside for retirement or for 
personal or family care and maintenance; substantial loss of 
payments received under a pension or retirement plan or a 
government benefits program; or assets essential to the health 
or welfare of the senior citizen or handicapped person; 
    (3) whether one or more senior citizens or handicapped 
persons are more vulnerable to the defendant's conduct than 
other members of the public because of age, poor health or 
infirmity, impaired understanding, restricted mobility, or 
disability, and actually suffered physical, emotional, or 
economic damage resulting from the defendant's conduct. 
    Subd. 3.  [RESTITUTION TO BE GIVEN PRIORITY.] Restitution 
ordered pursuant to the statutes listed in subdivision 2 shall 
be given priority over imposition of civil penalties designated 
by the court under this section. 
    Subd. 4.  [PRIVATE REMEDIES.] A person injured by a 
violation of this section may bring a civil action and recover 
damages, together with costs and disbursements, including costs 
of investigation and reasonable attorney's fees, and receive 
other equitable relief as determined by the court. 
    Presented to the governor May 26, 1989 
    Signed by the governor May 26, 1989, 5:44 p.m.