May 22, 2014WOLFEBORO — When the jury reached its verdict on the Town of Wolfeboro's suit against Wright-Pierce Engineers on May 9, it found that the town had proven its case on all seven counts in the suit. For one count, however, the jury's findings were technically only advisory.
For the claim in Count 5 of violating the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act, RSA 358-A, it was up to U.S. District Court Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr. to determine whether he agreed or disagreed with the jury.
In a 14-page decision handed down last Thursday, May 15, Judge DiClerico wrote, "The court finds and rules that Wright-Pierce's misrepresentations to Wolfeboro about the capacity of the RIB system on the Wolf 1-A site were knowing uses of deceptive acts in the conduct of commerce with this state in violation of the Consumer Protection Act, RSA 358-A:2."
Judge DiClerico goes on to state "Under RSA 358-A:10, when a defendant knowingly uses deceptive acts in commerce in this state, there is a mandatory minimum damages of award of at least double damages. Therefore, Wolfeboro is entitled to at least double damages and as much as triple damages."
In their finding on May 9 the jury awarded damages of $6,795,000. Judge DiClerico changed that amount to $7,658,532.42, which was Wolfeboro's claim of actual damages. At minimum double damages under the Consumer Protection Act, that would bring the total damage award to $15,397,064.84. Maximum triple damages would be $23,095,597.26.
In his order of May 15 Judge DiClerico gave Wolfeboro a deadline of May 20 to notify the court "if it intends to seek damages in excess of double damages," and, if so, "Wolfeboro shall file a properly supported motion on the issue of multiple damages on or before May 30, 2014. Wright-Pierce shal file its response within fourteen days of the date Wolfeboro files its motion."
In addition, Judge DiClerico ordered "Wolfeboro shall file a properly supported motion for an award of costs of the suit on or before May 30, 2014." As with the damages motion, Wright-Pierce will have 14 days to respond to the Wolfeboro motion for legql costs.
At press time on Tuesday, May 20, no information on the filing due on that date was available, nor had selectmen issued a statement on the judge's order. A full report will follow next week.