Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Aspen Dental Management, Inc. The lawsuit alleges that Aspen Dental, through deceptive advertising, cheated thousands of Bay State residents.

Mass.gov reports that Aspen Dental, which has numerous locations across Massachusetts including Pittsfield, West Springfield, and Hadley, is being sued over allegations that the dental chain cheated thousands of customers through several bait-and-switch advertising campaigns that put patients into debt.

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Filed on Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court, the complaint says that Aspen Dental violated the state Consumer Protection Law. Also, the suit alleges that Aspen Dental never made good on assurances it made to the Attorney General's Office back in 2014 over a similar incident.

According to Healey's suit, Aspen Dental charged customers, including those seeking emergency care, for services it advertised as free, without disclosing limitations to that policy.

In a media statement, Attorney General Healey had this to say regarding the lawsuit:

Aspen Dental took advantage of vulnerable consumers in need of dental care and used misleading advertising to lure them into their offices under false pretenses. We’re suing this company for violating both state law and its earlier promises not to engage in precisely these illegal practices, and we’re seeking restitution for patients harmed by this misconduct.

Also, according to the AG's office, back in 2014 Aspen Dental specifically agreed not to advertise free services without disclosing all limitations. In fact, the suit claims, it appears that Aspen Delta actually doubled down on its misleading tactics.

In response to Healey's allegations, a spokesperson for Aspen Dental responded with a statement which said, in part:

Sadly, the Massachusetts Attorney General has brought a lawsuit based on overblown rhetoric that’s inconsistent with its own actions. The Attorney General is relying on old information gathered during the course of an investigation that’s now lasted for more than 5-years...Not surprisingly, we intend to fight this case. We have been cooperating with the AG's office since the beginning.  We’ve not only responded to their massive demands, but most, if not all of the concerns raised by the AG’s office that we’ve known about were addressed long ago, whether we agreed with them or not. In fact, a judge observed on the record that we acted in good faith during the AG’s multi-year investigation and declined to order sanctions against us that the AG sought.

Aspen Dental's response went on to say that they're "proud of the services we provide to support the independent practice owners in Massachusetts. The thousands of patients who choose to walk into the Aspen Dental practices each day are the largest rebuke we can think of against the allegations made by the AG."

For more on the story, or to check out the complaint in full, visit Mass.gov's website here.

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