Can I Sue for Deception or False Advertising in Missouri?

How attorneys and the Merchandising Practices Act protect consumers

By Super Lawyers staff | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on March 6, 2023

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Companies offering products and services in Missouri must avoid false or deceptive advertising. A state law called the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) provides important legal protections to consumers. If a business violates the MMPA and a consumer suffers actual financial loss as a result of deceptive practices, that company can be held liable through a false advertising claim.

Missouri Law: False Advertising

The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act is the state’s primary truth-in-advertising law. The law covers merchandise, though that term is defined to include a wide range of goods and services.

Companies that violate the MMPA can be held liable through a civil legal claim. In addition, in cases of outright consumer fraud, criminal charges may be filed. Consumers who have been victimized by deceptive advertising have a right to file their own lawsuit to seek financial compensation.

To prevail in a false advertising claim under the MMPA, a plaintiff must prove the following four things:

  1. There was a purchase, advertisement, or active solicitation of goods or services
  2. The advertisement in question was primarily targeted for consumer purposes, not for business-to-business purposes
  3. The advertisement or solicitation was, in some manner, unlawfully deceptive
  4. The plaintiff suffered actual financial harm as a result of the false advertising

To be clear, you cannot bring an MMPA if you have not sustained losses. If you notice blatantly false advertising, but do not actually make a purchase, you cannot bring a civil lawsuit for damages. Though, of course, you can still report the false advertising to state regulators for potential enforcement action.  

How Does Missouri Define Deceptive Advertising?

Under the MMPA, false advertising is defined in a relatively broad manner. An advertisement or solicitation that creates a false impression in the mind of a reasonable consumer and that was made with the intent of influencing a purchasing decision is unlawful false advertising in Missouri.

This means that a blatantly untrue statement, a material misrepresentation, or a material omission could all be sufficient to support a false advertising claim. Ultimately, these are fact-specific claims. 

How a Missouri Consumer Protection Attorney Can Help

Companies are known to be highly aggressive in defending false and deceptive advertising claims. To prevail in this type of lawsuit, plaintiffs must be able to present a strong legal case and well-documented financial damages.

If you were the victim of fraudulent or deceptive advertising and are considering legal action, you should consult with an experienced Missouri consumer protection lawyer for legal advice as soon as possible. Many consumer protection attorneys provide free consultations to learn about your case, explain your rights and options to you, and help you pursue full and fair financial compensation.

Here are some questions to ask an attorney at your initial consultation:

  • What are your attorney’s fees and how are they covered?
  • What is your experience with cases involving deceptive business practices or consumer protection laws?
  • What civil penalties are available for deceptive business practices or false advertising?

For more information on this area of law, see our overview of consumer law.

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