ORS 646.638¹
Civil action by private party
  • damages
  • attorney fees
  • effect of prior injunction
  • time for commencing action
  • counterclaim

(1) Except as provided in subsection (8) of this section, any person who suffers any ascertainable loss of money or property, real or personal, as a result of willful use or employment by another person of a method, act or practice declared unlawful by ORS 646.608 (Additional unlawful business, trade practices), may bring an individual action in an appropriate court to recover actual damages or $200, whichever is greater. The court or the jury, as the case may be, may award punitive damages and the court may provide the equitable relief the court considers necessary or proper.

(2) Upon commencement of any action brought under subsection (1) of this section the party bringing the action shall mail a copy of the complaint or other initial pleading to the Attorney General and, upon entry of any judgment in the action, shall mail a copy of the judgment to the Attorney General. Failure to mail a copy of the complaint shall not be a jurisdictional defect, but a court may not enter judgment for the plaintiff until proof of mailing is filed with the court. Proof of mailing may be by affidavit or by return receipt of mailing.

(3) Except as provided in subsection (4) of this section, the court may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party in an action under this section.

(4) The court may not award attorney fees to a prevailing defendant under the provisions of subsection (3) of this section if the action under this section is maintained as a class action pursuant to ORCP 32.

(5) Any permanent injunction or final judgment or order of the court made under ORS 646.632 (Enjoining unlawful trade practices) or 646.636 (Remedial power of court) is prima facie evidence in an action brought under this section that the respondent used or employed a method, act or practice declared unlawful by ORS 646.608 (Additional unlawful business, trade practices), but an assurance of voluntary compliance, whether or not approved by the court, shall not be evidence of the violation.

(6) Actions brought under this section shall be commenced within one year from the discovery of the unlawful method, act or practice. However, whenever any complaint is filed by a prosecuting attorney to prevent, restrain or punish violations of ORS 646.608 (Additional unlawful business, trade practices), running of the statute of limitations with respect to every private right of action under this section and based in whole or in part on any matter complained of in said proceeding shall be suspended during the pendency thereof.

(7) Notwithstanding subsection (6) of this section, in any action brought by a seller or lessor against a purchaser or lessee of real estate, goods or services, the purchaser or lessee may assert any counterclaim the purchaser or lessee has arising out of a violation of ORS 646.605 (Definitions for ORS 646.605 to 646.652) to 646.652 (District attorney's reports to Attorney General).

(8) This section does not apply to any method, act or practice described in ORS 646.608 (Additional unlawful business, trade practices) (1)(aa). Actions for violation of laws relating to odometers are provided under ORS 815.410 (Illegal odometer tampering) and 815.415 (Unlawful repair of odometer). [1971 c.744 §13; 1973 c.235 §5; 1975 c.437 §4; 1977 c.195 §9; 1981 c.897 §78; 1985 c.251 §10b; 1995 c.696 §35; 2001 c.917 §3; 2001 c.924 §§16,18; 2005 c.42 §§3,4]

Notes of Decisions

Under this sec­tion, plaintiff need not allege or prove amount of "ascertainable loss," when min­i­mum claim of $200 is made. Scott v. Western Int. Sales, Inc., 267 Or 512, 517 P2d 661 (1973)

"Ascertainable," as used in this sec­tion, means capable of being discovered, observed or es­tab­lished. Scott v. Western Int. Sales, Inc., 267 Or 512, 517 P2d 661 (1973)

A deliberate and calculated misrepresenta­tion by a nonmanagerial employe justified imposi­tion of punitive damages. Allen v. Morgan Drive Away, Inc., 273 Or 614, 542 P2d 896 (1975)

Where seller was aware that automobile had been involved in major accident, but misrepresented that it had suffered only normal wear and tear, imposi­tion of punitive damages was justified. Byers v. Santiam Ford, Inc., 281 Or 411, 574 P2d 1122 (1978)

Under this sec­tion, no ac­tion lies unless defendant's con­duct is wilful; thus where plaintiff failed to allege wilfulness defendant's demurrer to complaint should have been allowed. Luedeman v. Tri-West Construc­tion Co., 39 Or App 401, 592 P2d 281 (1979)

Where defendant sold plaintiff mattresses and boxsprings which contained tags indicating items were sec­ond-hand, but represented that items were new, it was jury ques­tion whether plaintiff had sufficient knowledge to be put on inquiry prior to time he actually saw and read tags. Bodin v. B & L Furniture Co., 42 Or App 731, 601 P2d 848 (1979)

Require­ment of this sec­tion that complaint be mailed to Attorney General is not jurisdic­tional defect, but judg­ment may not be entered until proof of mailing is filed. Bodin v. B & L Furniture Co., 42 Or App 731, 601 P2d 848 (1979)

Where evidence indicated that contractor misrepresented homeowner's right to rescind contract, award of punitive damages under this sec­tion was proper, but misrepresenta­tion concerning status of its license did not give rise to punitive damages. Tri-West Const. v. Hernandez, 43 Or App 961, 607 P2d 1375 (1979), Sup Ct review denied

Under this sec­tion, legislative intent is that jury can award punitive damages if it finds deterrence is called for and defendant's con­duct is particularly ag­gra­vat­ed. Crooks v. Payless Drug Stores, 285 Or 481, 592 P2d 196 (1979)

Plaintiff's mere filing of complaint with Consumer Protec­tion Division did not toll limita­tion period of this sec­tion. Myers v. MHI Invest­ments, Inc., 44 Or App 467, 606 P2d 652 (1980), Sup Ct review denied

Where defendant incurred expenses in obtaining a loan to pay plaintiff's charges for unauthorized repairs, these were an "ascertainable loss" under this sec­tion and entitled defendant to recover min­i­mum penalty, punitive damages and attorney fees. Riviera Motors, Inc. v. Higbee, 45 Or App 545, 609 P2d 369 (1980), Sup Ct review denied

Where, inter alia, evidence showed that defendant's agent was aware plaintiffs were particularly concerned about preserving view which prop­erty had; that he knew view was prime reason for price plaintiffs paid; that notwithstanding, he gave plaintiffs unfounded and unsupportable assurances that view would be protected from obstructing buildings; building restric­tions were not included in adjacent properties before their sale and plaintiff's view was obstructed by sub­se­quent construc­tion; ac­tions revealed deliberate and conscious effort to misrepresent and award of punitive damages was proper. Mabin v. Tualatin Develop­ment Co., 48 Or App 271, 616 P2d 1196 (1980)

Plaintiff could not recover under this sec­tion for defendant's failure to disclose that they offered denturist services in their advertise­ment where evidence showed that plaintiff did not know there was a difference between "dentists" and "denturists." Terry v. Holden-Dhein Enterprises, Ltd., 48 Or App 763, 618 P2d 7 (1980), Sup Ct review denied

Attorney fees are not "ascertainable" loss supporting ac­tion for damages. C.A.R. Tow, Inc. v. Corwin, 76 Or App 192, 708 P2d 644 (1985)

Menial agent rule does not apply in claims for punitive damages under this sec­tion. Teague Motor Company v. Rowton, 84 Or App 72, 733 P2d 93 (1987)

Where plaintiffs pled "counterclaim" asking for award of attorney fees pursuant to ORS 646.638 (Civil action by private party) (3) in summary judg­ment ap­peal, counterclaim constituted separate claim within meaning of ORCP 67B for purpose of judg­ment from which plaintiffs could ap­peal. Swagerty v. Joe Romania Chevrolet, 95 Or App 728, 770 P2d 967 (1989), Sup Ct review denied

Trial court was authorized under this sec­tion to award attorney fees necessary to defend unlawful trade practices claim found to be frivolous, regardless of whether those fees also were necessary to defend fraud claim. Estate of Wesley E. Smith v. Ware, 307 Or 478, 769 P2d 773 (1989)

Allowing recovery of attorney fees under this pro­vi­sion does not preclude recovery under ORS 18.540 (renumbered ORS 31.735 (Distribution of punitive damages)). Honeywell v. Sterling Furniture Co., 310 Or 206, 797 P2d 1019 (1990)

Ac­tion may be instituted in form of counterclaim to FED ac­tion. Hoffer v. Szumski, 129 Or App 7, 877 P2d 128 (1994)

Expense incurred and wages lost due to litiga­tion are not recoverable as damages in claim for unfair trade practices. Hedrick v. Spear, 138 Or App 53, 907 P2d 1123 (1995)

Where complainant reasonably relies upon misrepresenta­tion by defendant, misrepresenta­tion may delay discovery date for limita­tion of ac­tion purposes. McCulloch v. Price Waterhouse LLP, 157 Or App 237, 971 P2d 414 (1998), Sup Ct review denied

On review of jury's punitive damages award under Unlawful Trade Practices Act, reviewing court must consider: 1) statutory and common law factors that allow award of punitive damages; 2) state's interest in protecting consumers by punishing violators and deterring violators and others from similar miscon­duct; 3) reprehensible nature of violator's con­duct; 4) ratio between punitive damages awarded and actual and potential harm caused by violator's tortious con­duct; and 5) range of sanc­tions provided in statute. Parrott v. Carr Chevrolet, Inc., 331 Or 537, 17 P3d 473 (2001)

Law Review Cita­tions

54 OLR 127-130 (1975); 73 OLR 639 (1994)

Notes of Decisions

A complaint which alleges in one count that defendants advertised automobile for sale with intent not to sell it as advertised, in a sec­ond count that there was a failure to disclose advertised price coupled with sale at greater amount sufficiently pleads ac­tion under Act. Sanders v. Francis, 277 Or 593, 561 P2d 1003 (1977)

Plaintiff's purchase of truck to carry on business of hauling freight in order to provide family invest­ment and employ­ment for family member did not fall within pro­vi­sions of Act. Searle v. Exley Express, Inc., 278 Or 535, 564 P2d 1054 (1977)

Amend­ment of defini­tion of "trade" and "commerce" to include "advertising, offering or distributing, whether by sale, rental or otherwise, any real estate, goods or services" does not indicate legislative intent to extend applica­tion of Unfair Trade Practices Act to loans and extensions of credit. Lamm v. Amfac Mortgage Corp., 44 Or App 203, 605 P2d 730 (1980)

There is no require­ment that consumer prove all ele­ments of common law fraud in order to recover damages under Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Raudebaugh v. Ac­tion Pest Control, 59 Or App 166, 650 P2d 1006 (1982)

Plaintiff's allega­tions that defendant escrow company represented that plaintiff would receive security interests on notes from sale of their business did not constitute misrepresenta­tions ac­tionable under Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Samuels v. Key Title Co., 63 Or App 627, 665 P2d 362 (1983), Sup Ct review denied

Law Review Cita­tions

56 OLR 490 (1977); 13 WLJ 455 (1977)

Notes of Decisions

Where users of IUDs brought suit against manufacturer on variety of grounds, claiming damages for infertility, private en­force­­ment pro­vi­sion of Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA) does not provide remedy for per­sonal injuries. Allen v. G.D. Searle and Co., 708 F Supp 1142 (D. Or. 1989)

Law Review Cita­tions

51 OLR 335, 346, 408 (1972); 53 OLR 473-475 (1974)

Chapter 646

Notes of Decisions

Subject matter regulated by this chapter is not "preempted" by Federal Robinson-Patman Act so as to render this chapter invalid. W. J. Seufert v. Nat. Restaurant Supply Co., 266 Or 92, 511 P2d 363 (1973)

Whether an injunc­tion should issue when a court finds a viola­tion of the Act is a matter of discre­tion. State ex rel Johnson v. Interna­tional Harvester Co., 25 Or App 9, 548 P2d 176 (1976)

This chapter imposes no af­firm­a­tive duty to inform customers of rates in absence of request, but prohibits making in­for­ma­­tion about prices available to some customers and not others. Wildish Sand & Gravel v. Northwest Natural Gas Co., 103 Or App 215, 796 P2d 1237 (1990), Sup Ct review denied

1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 646—Trade Practices and Antitrust Regulation, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­Archive/­2007ors646.­pdf (2007) (last ac­cessed Feb. 12, 2009).
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2007, Chapter 646, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­646ano.­htm (2007) (last ac­cessed Feb. 12, 2009).
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent. Currency Information