Thursday, September 26, 2013


            Our firm has taken on a wide variety of various landlord/tenant cases, from statutory violations, to personal injuries from premises liability cases, to preventing a person from unlawfully being ejected from their home, among others. We often find that a lot of tenants are completely unaware of many of the basic rules that apply to them as renters of real estate.
            One of the biggest is the law as it relates to security deposits. Often, a landlord decides to keep a security deposit unjustifiably, fails to follow the statutory procedure, and ends up unlawfully taking the security deposit of a tenant. RSA 540-A:7 governs the return of security deposit to tenants. Generally, the security deposit must be returned within thirty (30) days from the termination of the tenancy. However, some landlords just decide to keep it and “dare” the tenants to do something about it. This is most unfortunate, but as a tenant this creates a very specific cause of action against the landlord.
            First, if the landlord does not return the security deposit, they must comply with RSA 540-A:7. Specifically, they must “provide the tenant with a written, itemized list of any damages for which the landlord claims the tenant is liable, which shall indicate with particularity the nature of any repair necessary to correct any damage and satisfactory evidence that repair necessary to correct these damages has been or will be completed. Satisfactory evidence may include, but not be limited to, receipts for purchased repair materials and labor estimates, bills or invoices indicating the actual or estimated cost thereof.” This essentially boils down to forcing the landlord to prove, specifically, why they are entitled to keep the security deposit. Often times, the landlord fails to do this and it creates a cause of action for the tenant against the landlord.
            This failure to comply with RSA 540-A can entitle the tenant to costs, attorney’s fees, and up to twice the sum of the security deposit in Court. Thus, if your security deposit was $1,000, you would be entitled to obtain $2,000 from the Court for the 540-A violations. It is also likely that a landlord may have violated other provisions of RSA 540-A if he violated the security deposit rules, which may entitle a tenant to additional damages and fees and costs.

            If you find yourself in a situation as a tenant where you are faced with an overreaching landlord, please contact us today. We have handled many cases for both tenants and landlords, and have over 20 years combined experience in landlord tenant law. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Used Car Sales in New Hampshire: How to Protect Yourself from Getting Ripped Off

                In New Hampshire we do not have specific “lemon laws” that other states have that protect purchasers of used cars. Often, we get cases in our office where a person buys a used car, pays for it, and then after they drive it home they discover all sorts of problems with it. When they contact the seller, they are told all sales are final, and no reimbursement will be given. This can be very frustrating, especially if you are of limited means and cannot afford a car that will need constant servicing.

                In order to prevent these issues, it is important to first remember a few key terms. Almost always a used car dealer will sell a vehicle “as is”. By selling a vehicle “as is”, the seller is stating that the car comes with no warranties. However, one thing many people do not understand is that this waiver of warranties only applies to the implied warranties known as “fitness for a particular purpose” (i.e. the car drives like it should), and “merchantability” (which is something that warranties that the goods are merchantable and of decent quality). By putting the terms “as is” in any contract, this waives those warranties and they no longer apply to the vehicle being bought. However, this does not exclude what are called “express warranties”. Express warranties can be verbal and/or oral. An express warranty is a specific representation of the vehicle’s quality. Examples of an express warranty would be, “this vehicle has 100,000 miles on it”, “this vehicle’s brakes are of good working quality”, “this vehicle’s engine is in pristine condition and needs no work”, and so on. Things that would not be an express warranty are what we call “mere puffery”. Examples of puffery would be “the vehicles rides nicely”, “you’re going to look great in this car”, “you’re going to love this car”, and so on. The thing to remember is that express warranties are specific representations on the vehicle’s quality. Express warranties cannot be waived by selling a car “as is” and without any implied warranties. Knowing the difference is always integral to any used car sale case.

                Another component is New Hampshire’s statutory scheme on inspections. RSA 358-F requires a seller to either certify that the vehicle would/did pass inspection, or the seller must certify that the car would not pass inspection. RSA 358-F also requires that a dealer provide a written statement to any buyer that the vehicle has either not been inspected and the written statement serves to put the buyer on notice that they have a right to an inspection if they so choose. The other option for the seller is to provide written notice that the vehicle would not pass inspection, along with an itemized list of the problems of the car that need fixing in order for it to pass inspection. This is surprisingly commonly violated by dealers. And, if that violation is proven, it is deemed a violation of New Hampshire’s consumer protection statute (RSA 358-A), which entitles the buyer to double and triple damages and recovery of attorney’s fees.

                At Parnell & McKay, we have dealt with many different nefarious used car dealers that have ripped off potential buyers. If you find yourself cheated, please contact us today and put our experience to use on your behalf. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Personal Injury Series: How does potentially criminal conduct affect my injury case?

            Getting injured is unfortunate enough as it is, but sometimes someone is hit by a drunk driver, or someone speeding, or someone texting and driving and it can compound the injury. People involved in such accidents can suffer from increased anxiety, and become very fearful of driving after the accident. These folks not only suffer from their injuries, but also from the fact that another person was committing a crime when they were hurt. Ultimately, we get asked, how does this affect my case?
            The answer, like most in the legal field, is that it depends. Things like crossing a yellow line, speeding through a stop light or stop sign, or something as simple as failing to yield to oncoming traffic are all violations of the Rules of the Road in New Hampshire. These are ultimately criminal violations, but they are often not charged. Many clients become concerned that the person that hit them was “getting away with something”, and they want to know what can be done.
            If a case goes to trial, we here at Parnell & McKay always explore the rules and regulations in the State where the accident occurred to see if there is a statutory violation. If so, we plead the violation of the statute as a cause of action. If proven this helps establish “negligence per se”, which we have touched on previously in our series. This can make recovery a little easier because the insurer knows that they do not have very good arguments against liability.
            Sometimes, the conduct is more egregious. One such situation is any case involving a drunk driver. If the person pleads guilty to the driving while intoxicated (DWI), then we can use that plea in Court to help prove liability. More importantly though, when a drunk driver causes an accident their victims generally suffer from increased anxiety and fear when driving again. The thought is always in the back of their mind that any person on the road could be drunk. When we proceed forward with litigation on these cases, we always keep it in mind because people obviously do not like drunk drivers. This factors into our analysis on what a potential jury would do. This can increase potential recoveries, because juries can understand the increased anxiety and suffering of being hit by a drunken driver. A similar analysis can be done on driver’s texting while driving, which has become a major news story over the past ten years.

            It is very important to understand these factors as you decide who to best represent your interests. At Parnell & McKay, we have been practicing in injury law for a combined 30+ years between our injury attorneys. If you are hurt in an accident, contact us and put our years of experience and expertise to use.