In New Jersey, the elements of common-law fraud are: “(1) a material misrepresentation of a presently existing or past fact; (2) knowledge or belief by the defendant of its falsity; (3) an intention that the other person rely on it; (4) reasonable reliance thereon by the other person; and (5) resulting damages.” Gennari v. Weichert Co. Realtors, 691 A.2d 350, 148 N.J. 582, 610 (N.J. 1997); accord Kuzian v. Electrolux Home Prods., Inc., 937 F. Supp. 2d 599, 614-615 (D.N.J. 2013).
Further, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. §§ 56:8-1 – 56:8-184 (the “Consumer Fraud Act” or the “NJCFA”), renders it unlawful for any person to “use or employ . . . any unconscionable commercial practice, deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation,” or to “knowing[ly] conceal, suppress, or omi[t] . . . any material fact with intent that others rely upon . . . [that] concealment, suppression or omission, in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise or real estate, or with the subsequent performance of such person as aforesaid, whether or not any person has in fact been misled, deceived or damaged thereby . . . .” NJCFA § 2, N.J.S.A. § 56:8-2.
To maintain a claim under the Consumer Fraud Act, a private litigant must establish “(1) unlawful conduct by the defendants, (2) an ascertainable loss on the part of the plaintiff, and (3) a causal relationship between the defendant’s unlawful conduct and the plaintiff’s ascertainable loss.” New Jersey Citizen Action v. Schering-Plough Corp., 842 A.2d 174, 367 N.J. Super. 8, 12-13 (N.J. App. Div. 2003); see also NJCFA § 7, N.J.S.A. § 56:8-19.
A private litigant who proves a claim under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is entitled to recover three times the damages sustained by him, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. See NJCFA § 7, N.J.S.A. § 56:8-19.
If your company wants to bring, or needs a lawyer to defend it in, business litigation and you are located in the New York City area, call Attorney David S. Rich at (212) 209-3972.