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LegalGems
LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 7455
Experience:  Research Attorney; Private Practice; Attorney Mentor; Mediator
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I have a friend that I feel was taken advantage of. He is 72

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Hello, I have a friend that I feel was taken advantage of. He is 72 years old with little English. He has an invention that he has been working for over 10 years. I just helped him complete a US Patent with Legalzoom, which was accepted. He went to speak with some friends that has a very big international business about manufacturing. They convinced him on the spot that he needed their service and had him sign a contract for their services to create a 2 minute video and for marketing a also a web site. They charged him $15,000, which he gave them a check. Currently, he realize that he was taken advantage of and is not happy with the video they provided. He also feels that they are lying to him. The company sent him a letter informing him that they have held their end of the contract and that they consider it complete. He is not happy with their work and ask for his money back. The owner threaten him and I sent them a letter letting them know that he wants his money back.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 5 months ago.

I am very sorry to hear this; fortunately CA is one of the more progressive states when it comes to protecting seniors.

This is the consumer protection statute (please see in particular sections 5, 7, and 14):

1770. (a) The following unfair methods of competition and unfair or
deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a
transaction intended to result or which results in the sale or lease
of goods or services to any consumer are unlawful:
(1) Passing off goods or services as those of another.
(2) Misrepresenting the source, sponsorship, approval, or
certification of goods or services.
(3) Misrepresenting the affiliation, connection, or association
with, or certification by, another.
(4) Using deceptive representations or designations of geographic
origin in connection with goods or services.
(5) Representing that goods or services have sponsorship,
approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities
which they do not have or that a person has a sponsorship, approval,
status, affiliation, or connection which he or she does not have.
(6) Representing that goods are original or new if they have
deteriorated unreasonably or are altered, reconditioned, reclaimed,
used, or secondhand.
(7) Representing that goods or services are of a particular
standard, quality, or grade, or that goods are of a particular style
or model, if they are of another.
(8) Disparaging the goods, services, or business of another by
false or misleading representation of fact.
(9) Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as
advertised.
(10) Advertising goods or services with intent not to supply
reasonably expectable demand, unless the advertisement discloses a
limitation of quantity.
(11) Advertising furniture without clearly indicating that it is
unassembled if that is the case.
(12) Advertising the price of unassembled furniture without
clearly indicating the assembled price of that furniture if the same
furniture is available assembled from the seller.
(13) Making false or misleading statements of fact concerning
reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions.
(14) Representing that a transaction confers or involves rights,
remedies, or obligations which it does not have or involve, or which
are prohibited by law.
(15) Representing that a part, replacement, or repair service is
needed when it is not.
(16) Representing that the subject of a transaction has been
supplied in accordance with a previous representation when it has
not.
(17) Representing that the consumer will receive a rebate,
discount, or other economic benefit, if the earning of the benefit is
contingent on an event to occur subsequent to the consummation of
the transaction.
(18) Misrepresenting the authority of a salesperson,
representative, or agent to negotiate the final terms of a
transaction with a consumer.
(19) Inserting an unconscionable provision in the contract.
(20) Advertising that a product is being offered at a specific
price plus a specific percentage of that price unless (A) the total
price is set forth in the advertisement, which may include, but is
not limited to, shelf tags, displays, and media advertising, in a
size larger than any other price in that advertisement, and (B) the
specific price plus a specific percentage of that price represents a
markup from the seller's costs or from the wholesale price of the
product. This subdivision shall not apply to in-store advertising by
businesses which are open only to members or cooperative
organizations organized pursuant to Division 3 (commencing with
Section 12000) of Title 1 of the Corporations Code where more than 50
percent of purchases are made at the specific price set forth in the
advertisement.
(21) Selling or leasing goods in violation of Chapter 4
(commencing with Section 1797.8) of Title 1.7.
(22) (A) Disseminating an unsolicited prerecorded message by
telephone without an unrecorded, natural voice first informing the
person answering the telephone of the name of the caller or the
organization being represented, and either the address or the
telephone number of the caller, and without obtaining the consent of
that person to listen to the prerecorded message.
(B) This subdivision does not apply to a message disseminated to a
business associate, customer, or other person having an established
relationship with the person or organization making the call, to a
call for the purpose of collecting an existing obligation, or to any
call generated at the request of the recipient.
(23) (A) The home solicitation, as defined in subdivision (h) of
Section 1761, of a consumer who is a senior citizen where a loan is
made encumbering the primary residence of that consumer for the
purposes of paying for home improvements and where the transaction is
part of a pattern or practice in violation of either subsection (h)
or (i) of Section 1639 of Title 15 of the United States Code or
paragraphs (1), (2), and (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 226.34 of
Title 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(B) A third party shall not be liable under this subdivision
unless (1) there was an agency relationship between the party who
engaged in home solicitation and the third party or (2) the third
party had actual knowledge of, or participated in, the unfair or
deceptive transaction. A third party who is a holder in due course
under a home solicitation transaction shall not be liable under this
subdivision.
(24) (A) Charging or receiving an unreasonable fee to prepare,
aid, or advise any prospective applicant, applicant, or recipient in
the procurement, maintenance, or securing of public social services.
(B) For purposes of this paragraph, the following definitions
shall apply:
(i) "Public social services" means those activities and functions
of state and local government administered or supervised by the State
Department of Health Care Services, the State Department of Public
Health, or the State Department of Social Services, and involved in
providing aid or services, or both, including health care services,
and medical assistance, to those persons who, because of their
economic circumstances or social condition, are in need of that aid
or those services and may benefit from them.
(ii) "Public social services" also includes activities and
functions administered or supervised by the United States Department
of Veterans Affairs or the California Department of Veterans Affairs
involved in providing aid or services, or both, to veterans,
including pension benefits.
(iii) "Unreasonable fee" means a fee that is exorbitant and
disproportionate to the services performed. Factors to be considered,
when appropriate, in determining the reasonableness of a fee, are
based on the circumstances existing at the time of the service and
shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
(I) The time and effort required.
(II) The novelty and difficulty of the services.
(III) The skill required to perform the services.
(IV) The nature and length of the professional relationship.
(V) The experience, reputation, and ability of the person
providing the services.
(C) This paragraph shall not apply to attorneys licensed to
practice law in California, who are subject to the California Rules
of Professional Conduct and to the mandatory fee arbitration
provisions of Article 13 (commencing with Section 6200) of Chapter 4
of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, when the fees
charged or received are for providing representation in
administrative agency appeal proceedings or court proceedings for
purposes of procuring, maintaining, or securing public social
services on behalf of a person or group of persons.
(25) (A) Advertising or promoting any event, presentation,
seminar, workshop, or other public gathering regarding veterans'
benefits or entitlements that does not include the following
statement in the same type size and font as the term "veteran" or any
variation of that term:
(i) "I am not authorized to file an initial application for
Veterans' Aid and Attendance benefits on your behalf, or to represent
you before the Board of Veterans' Appeals within the United States
Department of Veterans Affairs in any proceeding on any matter,
including an application for such benefits. It would be illegal for
me to accept a fee for preparing that application on your behalf."
The requirements of this clause do not apply to a person licensed to
act as an agent or attorney in proceedings before the Agency of
Original Jurisdiction and the Board of Veterans' Appeals within the
United States Department of Veterans Affairs when that person is
offering those services at the advertised event.
(ii) The statement in clause (i) shall also be disseminated, both
orally and in writing, at the beginning of any event, presentation,
seminar, workshop, or public gathering regarding veterans' benefits
or entitlements.
(B) Advertising or promoting any event, presentation, seminar,
workshop, or other public gathering regarding veterans' benefits or
entitlements which is not sponsored by, or affiliated with, the
United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the California
Department of Veterans Affairs, or any other congressionally
chartered or recognized organization of honorably discharged members
of the Armed Forces of the United States, or any of their auxiliaries
that does not include the following statement, in the same type size
and font as the term "veteran" or the variation of that term:
That is accessible here:http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=01001-02000&file=1770Also the following B&P code:17200. As used in this chapter, unfair competition shall mean and
include any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice
and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising and any act
prohibited by Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 17500) of Part 3 of
Division 7 of the Business and Professions Code.

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=bpc&group=17001-18000&file=17200-17210

Misleading acts are here:

17500. It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or
association, or any employee thereof with intent directly or
indirectly to dispose of real or personal property or to perform
services, professional or otherwise, or anything of any nature
whatsoever or to induce the public to enter into any obligation
relating thereto, to make or disseminate or cause to be made or
disseminated before the public in this state, or to make or
disseminate or cause to be made or disseminated from this state
before the public in any state, in any newspaper or other
publication, or any advertising device, or by public outcry or
proclamation, or in any other manner or means whatever, including
over the Internet, any statement, concerning that real or personal
property or those services, professional or otherwise, or concerning
any circumstance or matter of fact connected with the proposed
performance or disposition thereof, which is untrue or misleading,
and which is known, or which by the exercise of reasonable care
should be known, to be untrue or misleading, or for any person, firm,
or corporation to so make or disseminate or cause to be so made or
disseminated any such statement as part of a plan or scheme with the
intent not to sell that personal property or those services,
professional or otherwise, so advertised at the price stated therein,
or as so advertised. Any violation of the provisions of this section
is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not
exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand five
hundred dollars ($2,500), or by both that imprisonment and fine.

Section 17206.1 has additional remedies when the victim is a senior: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=bpc&group=17001-18000&file=17200-17210

17206. Civil Penalty for Violation of Chapter
(a) Any person who engages, has engaged, or proposes to engage in
unfair competition shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed
two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) for each violation, which
shall be assessed and recovered in a civil action brought in the name
of the people of the State of California by the Attorney General, by
any district attorney, by any county counsel authorized by agreement
with the district attorney in actions involving violation of a
county ordinance, by any city attorney of a city having a population
in excess of 750,000, by any city attorney of any city and county,
or, with the consent of the district attorney, by a city prosecutor
in any city having a full-time city prosecutor, in any court of
competent jurisdiction.
(b) The court shall impose a civil penalty for each violation of
this chapter. In assessing the amount of the civil penalty, the court
shall consider any one or more of the relevant circumstances
presented by any of the parties to the case, including, but not
limited to, the following: the nature and seriousness of the
misconduct, the number of violations, the persistence of the
misconduct, the length of time over which the misconduct occurred,
the willfulness of the defendant's misconduct, and the defendant's
assets, liabilities, and net worth.
(c) If the action is brought by the Attorney General, one-half of
the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in
which the judgment was entered, and one-half to the General Fund. If
the action is brought by a district attorney or county counsel, the
penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in
which the judgment was entered. Except as provided in subdivision
(e), if the action is brought by a city attorney or city prosecutor,
one-half of the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of
the city in which the judgment was entered, and one-half to the
treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered. The
aforementioned funds shall be for the exclusive use by the Attorney
General, the district attorney, the county counsel, and the city
attorney for the enforcement of consumer protection laws.
(d) The Unfair Competition Law Fund is hereby created as a special
account within the General Fund in the State Treasury. The portion
of penalties that is payable to the General Fund or to the Treasurer
recovered by the Attorney General from an action or settlement of a
claim made by the Attorney General pursuant to this chapter or
Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 17500) of Part 3 shall be
deposited into this fund. Moneys in this fund, upon appropriation by
the Legislature, shall be used by the Attorney General to support
investigations and prosecutions of California's consumer protection
laws, including implementation of judgments obtained from such
prosecutions or investigations and other activities which are in
furtherance of this chapter or Chapter 1 (commencing with Section
17500) of Part 3. Notwithstanding Section 13340 of the Government
Code, any civil penalties deposited in the fund pursuant to the
National Mortgage Settlement, as provided in Section 12531 of the
Government Code, are continuously appropriated to the Department of
Justice for the purpose of offsetting General Fund costs incurred by
the Department of Justice.
(e) If the action is brought at the request of a board within the
Department of Consumer Affairs or a local consumer affairs agency,
the court shall determine the reasonable expenses incurred by the
board or local agency in the investigation and prosecution of the
action.
Before any penalty collected is paid out pursuant to subdivision
(c), the amount of any reasonable expenses incurred by the board
shall be paid to the Treasurer for deposit in the special fund of the
board described in Section 205. If the board has no such special
fund, the moneys shall be paid to the Treasurer. The amount of any
reasonable expenses incurred by a local consumer affairs agency shall
be paid to the general fund of the municipality or county that funds
the local agency.
(f) If the action is brought by a city attorney of a city and
county, the entire amount of the penalty collected shall be paid to
the treasurer of the city and county in which the judgment was
entered for the exclusive use by the city attorney for the
enforcement of consumer protection laws. However, if the action is
brought by a city attorney of a city and county for the purposes of
civil enforcement pursuant to Section 17980 of the Health and Safety
Code or Article 3 (commencing with Section 11570) of Chapter 10 of
Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, either the penalty
collected shall be paid entirely to the treasurer of the city and
county in which the judgment was entered or, upon the request of the
city attorney, the court may order that up to one-half of the
penalty, under court supervision and approval, be paid for the
purpose of restoring, maintaining, or enhancing the premises that
were the subject of the action, and that the balance of the penalty
be paid to the treasurer of the city and county.17206.1. (a) (1) In addition to any liability for a civil penalty
pursuant to Section 17206, a person who violates this chapter, and
the act or acts of unfair competition are perpetrated against one or
more senior citizens or disabled persons, may be liable for a civil
penalty not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) for
each violation, which may be assessed and recovered in a civil action
as prescribed in Section 17206.
(2) Subject to subdivision (d), any civil penalty shall be paid as
prescribed by subdivisions (b) and (c) of Section 17206.
(b) As used in this section, the following terms have the
following meanings:
(1) "Senior citizen" means a person who is 65 years of age or
older.
(2) "Disabled person" means a person who has a physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits one or more major life
activities.
(A) As used in this subdivision, "physical or mental impairment"
means any of the following:
(i) A physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement,
or anatomical loss substantially affecting one or more of the
following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense
organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular;
reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; or
endocrine.
(ii) A mental or psychological disorder, including intellectual
disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and
specific learning disabilities.
"Physical or mental impairment" includes, but is not limited to,
diseases and conditions including orthopedic, visual, speech, and
hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy,
multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, intellectual
disability, and emotional illness.
(B) "Major life activities" means functions that include caring
for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing,
speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
(c) In determining whether to impose a civil penalty pursuant to
subdivision (a) and the amount thereof, the court shall consider, in
addition to any 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 his or
her conduct was directed to one or more senior citizens or disabled
persons.
(2) Whether the defendant's conduct caused one or more senior
citizens or disabled persons to suffer any of the following: 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; or 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 disabled person.
(3) Whether one or more senior citizens or disabled persons are
substantially more vulnerable than other members of the public to the
defendant's conduct because of age, poor health or infirmity,
impaired understanding, restricted mobility, or disability, and
actually suffered substantial physical, emotional, or economic damage
resulting from the defendant's conduct.
(d) A court of competent jurisdiction hearing an action pursuant
to this section may make orders and judgments as necessary to restore
to a senior citizen or disabled person money or property, real or
personal that may have been acquired by means of a violation of this
chapter. Restitution ordered pursuant to this subdivision shall be
given priority over recovery of a civil penalty designated by the
court as imposed pursuant to subdivision (a), but shall not be given
priority over a civil penalty imposed pursuant to subdivision (a) of
Section 17206. If the court determines that full restitution cannot
be made to those senior citizens or disabled persons, either at the
time of judgment or by a future date determined by the court, then
restitution under this subdivision shall be made on a pro rata basis
depending on the amount of loss.
So basically if a senior is taken advantage of the business can be fined, and the senior, by virtue of their vulnerable legal status, is allowed additional recovery. A contract lawyer or a business law lawyer would be able to assist with either writing a demand letter or advising on filing a lawsuit: Further questions? Please post here to continue the chat. Satisfied? Kindly rate positively so I receive credit for assisting you.(no additional charges are incurred). Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.
Expert:  LegalGems replied 5 months ago.

checking in on the above;

thank you for using JA.

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