The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) protects customers from unfair or deceptive business practices. The CFA specifically forbids unconscionable business practices, fraud, deception, false pretenses, false promises or misrepresentations, and knowing concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact that others may rely upon in connection with the sale of goods, services, and real estate.
Examples of violations of the CFA include:
Bait and switch tactics in the sale of a vehicle
Selling a used item as new
Selling a refurbished mattress without the mandatory labels identifying it as such
Lying about the condition of a house for sale
Home improvement contractor who does the work improperly or not at all
Buying a newer car that is a “lemon”
Failure of business to display disclosure statements about foods they prepare as halal
The CFA is a fee-shifting statute which means that losing party must pay the attorney fees and costs and costs for the prevailing party. This is a crucial element of the statute as it provides consumers a way to retain counsel without having to pay out of pocket for the representation. Likewise, the fee-shifting provision of the CFA entices attorneys to take on viable cases alleging violations of the CFA.
In addition to having your attorney fees and costs paid by the losing party, the CFA provides for treble damages on any amount that you win. The treble damage award is punitive in nature, intended to punish the party who violated the terms of the CFA.
To establish a viable CFA claim, a plaintiff must establish (1) unlawful conduct by the defendant; (2) an ascertainable loss by the plaintiff; and (3) a causal connection between the defendant’s unlawful conduct and the plaintiff’s ascertainable loss.
Unlike a claim of breach of contract which aims to make you whole by returning you to the same position you were in before the breach, a successful claim under the CFA will provide you with more money than you lost due to the violation of the CFA.
If you think you have been the victim of deceptive or fraudulent business practices, contact Rivers Law Firm LLC today for a free consultation.