Monday, December 04, 2017

LT - excessive sec. deposit - violation of UTPCPL - treble damages

E.S. Management v. Gao et al. – Superior Court – November 15, 2017

Landlord found liable to four Chinese national students at Carnegie Mellon University

* excessive security deposit (more than two months), in violation of  68 P.S. 250.511a

* UTPCPL violation – students were in China, had limited English proficiency, lease at 15 pages, single-spaced,
   students given only two days to review it – lease never executed - L refused to return deposit

* treble damages award under UTPCPL affirmed – egregious conduct present but not required -
“Discretion to treble damages under the UTPCPL should not be closely constrained by the common-law requirements associated with the award of punitive damages. . . . Nevertheless, the discretion of courts of original jurisdiction is not limitless, as we believe that awards of treble damages may be reviewed by the appellate courts for rationality, akin to appellate review of the discretionary aspect of equitable awards, as previously discussed. Centrally, courts of original jurisdiction should focus on the presence of intentional or reckless, wrongful conduct, as to which an award of treble damages would be consistent with, and in furtherance of, the remedial purposes of the UTPCPL. Schwartz v. Rockey, 932 A.2d 885, 898 (Pa. 2007) (internal citation and footnote omitted).”

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