The call is familiar. Someone has ripped them off, stolen property, and won’t return it.
They’ve already contacted law enforcement, and the response was the typical refrain.
Sorry, ma’am. There’s nothing we can do. This is a civil matter. You’ll need to contact an attorney.
And, that’s exactly what they do. Discouraged already, they seem to know the response the lawyer is going to give them–that there’s nothing the lawyer can do for them either. The reasons are usually the same–the amount they are pursuing isn’t enough to justify the lawyer’s fees, or the crook isn’t good for it anyway. It’s why they turned to the police in the first place, because at least if the cops did something, there could be punishment if not repayment.
Having handled the above calls and seen the scenario dozens of time, I was happy to recently read that Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett has actually ventured into the civil realm and filed a civil case against Defendants Boulder Marathon, LLC, and Jeffrey Mason. I know nothing about the case, but I can tell you that it involves a little known and little exercised provision under Colorado’s civil code (C.R.S. 6-1-103) that allows Colorado DAs and the Attorney General’s office to enforce the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. According to the Complaint, it is alleged that entry fees for the 2013 Marathon that was canceled without refunds “ranged from $80.00 to $121.00 per runner.”
Enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act is typically handled by privately retained attorneys. Sometimes the resources and ability of law enforcement are turned to for justice, and from reviewing the case, significant investigation went into this case before it was filed. The DA’s office here getting involved and following through is a welcomed sight as any one of the runners most certainly could have been told “It’s a civil matter” may now have their interests represented and see their day in court.