Legal Memorandum: Compensatory Damages for a Personal Injury

Issue: Award of Compensatory Damages for a Personal Injury Caused by an Unfair or Deceptive Act under Massachusetts law.

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Compensatory damages; Personal injury; Unfair or deceptive act
Jurisdiction: Massachusetts
Cited Cases: 867 F.2d 79; 236 Kan. 120; 773 N.E.2d 474; 689 P.2d 1187; 42 Mass. App. Ct. 94; 55 Mass. App. Ct. 909; 562 N.E.2d 845; 640 N.E.2d 1101; 712 N.E.2d 93; 47 Mass. App. Ct. 10; 761 N.E.2d 482; 59 Mass. App. Ct. 78; 794 N.E.2d 607; 895 F.2d 830; 29 Mass. App. Ct. 510; 186 N.E. 733
Cited Statutes: G.L. ch. 93A, § 9; G.L. ch. 93A, § 2(a); G.L. ch. 93A, § 2
Date: 03/01/2004

Under Massachusetts law, where an award of compensatory damages is made under G.L. ch. 93A, § 9 for a personal injury caused by an unfair or deceptive act and, in addition, an award is made under § 9 for attorney’s fees, whether the attorney’s fee award is recoverable under the defendant’s homeowner’s insurance policy’s, which promises to pay for “damages” (not a defined term in the policy except that prejudgment interest is expressly included), is a claim made against the insured for damages because of bodily injury, and where the policy expressly agrees to pay as claim expenses both “costs” and post-judgment interest.

The court’s decisions regarding an award of attorney’s fees in these circumstances is “within the broad discretion of the trial judge.”  Linthicum v. Archambault, 379 Mass. 381, 398 N.E.2d 482, 488 (1979), overruled in part on other grounds by Knapp Shoes, Inc. v. Sylvania Shoe Mfg. Corp., 418 Mass. 737, 640 N.E.2d 1101, 1105 (1994).            

Chapter 93A, § 9 provides, in pertinent part:

(3A) A person may assert a claim under this section in a district court, whether by way of original complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party action, for money damages only.  Said damages may include double or treble damages, attorney’s fees and costs as herein provided.

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(4) If the court finds in any action commenced hereunder that there has been a violation of section two, the petitioner shall, in addition to […]


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