Melissa Totaro

Melissa Totaro

Houston & Totaro, Attorneys-at-Law
  • Consumer Law
  • New Jersey
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The law firm of Houston & Totaro represents consumers across the state of New Jersey in cases involving consumer fraud, unconscionable conduct and unfair business practices by automobile dealers and other types of businesses; predatory lending; mortgage servicing abuse, and violations of federal and state consumer protection laws. We use a combination of telephone conferences and e-mail communications, as well as face to face meetings, to obtain the information needed to make informed decisions about a case, in order to accommodate clients from all counties, and appear in courts throughout the state of New Jersey, state and federal. We take the vast majority of our cases on a contingency basis, so that consumers who could otherwise not afford to do so can seek redress for their losses.

Practice Area
  • Consumer Law
Video Chat and Conferencing
  • Zoom
  • Contingent Fees
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
New Jersey
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Professional Experience
Houston & Totaro, Attorneys-at-Law
- Current
Staff Attorney - Consumer Law Unit
Passaic County Legal Aid Society
Judicial Law Clerk
Superior Court of New Jersey
Rutgers School of Law-Newark
J.D. (1993) | Law
Honors: Degree awarded with Honors. Elected to the Order of the Coif. Awarded one of four West Publishing Co. Scholarship Awards given to four graduates who distinguished themselves in an area of scholarly achievement.
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Rutgers University - Newark
B.A. (1988) | English
Honors: Awarded degree with High Honors
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Professional Associations
National Association of Consumer Advocates
- Current
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New Jersey State Bar  # 019461993
- Current
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Websites & Blogs
Houston & Totaro, Attorneys-at-Law
National Association of Consumer Advocates
Legal Answers
3 Questions Answered

Q. Can I cancel my wedding in NJ in 11/2020 under the impossibility clause for a full refund due to COVID?
A: In addition to whatever the terms are in your contract, there are principals of general contract law regarding unforeseeable intervening events, impossibility and frustration of purpose that may apply to your situation. In addition, if the venue refuses to allow you to cancel and return your deposit, its actions may be considered unconscionable under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, which provides a prevailing consumer with triple damages and attorneys fees. You should ask a consumer law attorney to review your contract and the facts of your case. You may want an attorney to write a letter on your behalf in an effort to secure the return of your deposit. If the venue still refuses, or if you believe a letter would be futile and prefer to consider litigation, a consumer law attorney will assess the strength of your case and may offer representation in litigation at a low cost to you.
Q. Can our wedding venue ignore us and go silent on our refund request?
A: Based on the information in your question it appears clear that the venue is unwilling to refund your money voluntarily. You should contact an attorney that practices consumer law and provide them with your contract and the facts of your situation. If there is a strong case that the venue is acting in bad faith or deceptively, and if the venue is financially viable, a consumer law attorney may be willing to represent you at limited cost to you.
Q. I purchased a car from a dealership about 4 years ago. I went to trade in the car and found out the title is bad.
A: To knowingly sell a vehicle that has frame damage and a branded title without disclosing that to the purchaser would be deceptive and unconscionable. Based on your question there are issues regarding whether the Autocheck report would have had that information on it 4 years ago when you purchased the vehicle, whether the dealership used Autocheck at that time, and what knowledge the dealer otherwise would have had, that all would have to be looked into, but you should contact a consumer law attorney. There are consumer protection statutes both state and federal that provide for both damages for the consumer and the payment of their attorneys fees if they prevail in a lawsuit against a merchant, so if you have a strong case a consumer law attorney may be willing to represent you on a contingency basis.
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Contact & Map
Houston & Totaro
195 Fairfield Avenue
Unit 1A
West Caldwell, NJ 07006
Telephone: (973) 228-6200
Fax: (973) 228-6213
Notice: We monitor our email 7 days a week and respond to all inquiries promptly.
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