BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a $200,000 settlement on Thursday with Peters Pond RV Resort to resolve allegations of unfair and deceptive practices.
The owners of the Sandwich-based Peters Pond RV Resort allegedly threatened consumers that they would lose their home-site and be forced to move without compensation and at their own expense if they did not buy a new $16,000 membership. The owners of the RV resort named in an August lawsuit include Peters Pond RV Resort Inc., Morgan RV Resorts LLC, Ideal Private Resorts LLC and Robert Moser.
"This company took advantage of elderly customers and retirees who invested a significant amount of money in their homes," Coakley said. "It is difficult to believe that any business would try to strong arm people who worked and saved their entire lives so they could enjoy their golden years. We are thankful that these practices will end and that consumers will receive restitution."
Coakley's lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court in August, alleged violations of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. In September, the court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting future intimidating sales practices.
Residents at Peters Pond bought mobile homes that looked like manufactured homes referred to as park model homes. While the homes are owned by residents, the lots are leased from Peters Pond. Residents thought they could renew their lease indefinitely as long as they abided by community rules and paid rent on time. The defendants allegedly threatened that the consumers must buy the new membership and pay an annual $6,000 homeowners fee despite not including any apparent benefits.
Close to 100 homeowners paid to join the club because they feared losing the homes they had invested considerable money into. When residents attempted to sell the homes, the defendants allegedly interfered with the rights of the homeowners by preventing them from using brokers to assist in the sale and charging a $2,000 transfer fee.
Under the terms of a consent judgment, refunds will be provided to consumers who paid for the membership program. The defendants will also pay $200,000 to the state in costs and penalties. In addition, the defendants are prohibited from continuing alleged unlawful sales practices, must give full itemized disclosure of all fees charged for services or goods provided, and must allow consumers to retain an appropriate broker for home sales. The judgment also provides lease rate increase restrictions for current residents of Peters Pond.