Law Office Of Paul DePetris
paul@newjerseylemon.com

New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act Damages FAQs

INTRODUCTION
Read below to learn more about this topic.  Or, to receive a no cost phone consultation, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send him an email.  Warning – this article does not necessarily include every New Jersey court rule, code or law that may apply to your New Jersey case!  The Law Office of Paul DePetris does not guarantee that the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website are the latest versions, that they lack typographical errors or that they have not changed, repealed or superseded by other laws.  Before taking any action, read all applicable federal and state source law and case law and consult with an attorney.  Court addresses, hours of operation and directions may change so check with the court in advance of mailing documents to court or going there!  Some of the webpages on this site don’t apply to all types of New Jersey cases, since there are different rules for different case types!


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD DAMAGES FAQS


WHAT IS THE NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT?
Many of us have heard the Latin phrase caveat emptor: “let the buyer beware.” That statement allows little relief to a New Jersey consumer.  That statement does not reflect current law in New Jersey. Here, we have a more ethical approach in business dealings with one another.  Therefore, each of us may rely on representations made by another in a New Jersey business transaction. This approach is reflected in a New Jersey law, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.  The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act allows New Jersey plaintiffs to win New Jersey Consumer Fraud damages as well as other types of monetary relief.


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD TRIPLE DAMAGE AWARDS
New Jersey Consumer Fraud triple damages, also called New Jersey Consumer Fraud treble damages, are available to certain New Jersey Consumer Fraud plaintiffs.  New Jersey Consumer Fraud triple damages are an important part of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.  The tripling of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud damages award is meant to punish the New Jersey Consumer Fraud defendant.  


WHAT IS NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ASCERTAINABLE LOSS? 
To win New Jersey Consumer Fraud damages under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, a New Jersey Consumer Fraud plaintiff must prove that the New Jersey Consumer Fraud plaintiff suffered an ascertainable loss of money or property – that is, lost money or property as a result of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud defendant’s New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violation.   The New Jersey Consumer Fraud plaintiff is allowed to receive an award of money for the New Jersey Consumer Fraud plaintiff’s Consumer Fraud loss proximately caused by the New Jersey Consumer Fraud defendant.  If the New Jersey court finds that the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act was violated and the New Jersey court awards New Jersey Consumer Fraud damages, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act requires the New Jersey court to triple whatever amount of damages that the New Jersey court awards to the New Jersey Consumer Fraud plaintiff.   


HOW DO I PROVE NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ASCERTAINABLE LOSS?
To recover New Jersey Consumer Fraud money damages under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, you must prove that:
You were the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim of an unconscionable commercial practice, deception, Fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise or real estate or with the subsequent performance of such person; or 
You were the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim of the knowing concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact with intent that you rely upon such 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; or
You were the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim of a violation of a section of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act or an administrative regulation that prohibits Consumer Fraud; and
The misconduct directly caused you to lose property or money; and
You are able to supply an estimate of your New Jersey Consumer Fraud damages, calculated within a reasonable degree of certainty that proves you suffered those losses
A New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim does not have to prove that the wrongful conduct was their sole cause of their New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss, but merely that it was a cause.  While the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim’s proof of New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss may ultimately be rejected by the trier of fact (in New Jersey Consumer Fraud jury trials, the trier of fact is a New Jersey Consumer Fraud jury and in trials heard without a New Jersey Consumer Fraud jury, the trier of fact is a judge), such possibility does not deny New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim standing under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.  Nor is it necessary for a New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim to establish the exact dollar amount of their New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss.   Instead, to establish New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss it is sufficient for a New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim to submit an estimate of New Jersey Consumer Fraud damages, calculated with a reasonable degree of certainty.


LOSS OF VALUE AS NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ASCERTAINABLE LOSS 
To prove that a loss in the value of certain property is evidence of New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violation, it is sufficient if New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim produces expert testimony that estimates with a sufficient degree of precision a loss in value in the product due to market conditions.  But this evidence of New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss cannot be mere guesswork – it must be presented with some certainty demonstrating that it is capable of calculation.  


BENEFIT OF THE BARGAIN DAMAGES AS NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ASCERTAINABLE LOSS 
A New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim can claim they suffered New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss by failing to receive the benefit of the bargain relative to a product or services that they purchased, such as where they receive less than what they were promised.  But the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim’s lack of fulfillment must be objectively ascertained rather than being defined by the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim’s mere subjective desires.  The following are examples of valid loss of the benefit of the bargain New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act claims:


a tire manufacturer allegedly made defective tires and removed visible evidence of defects, which required New Jersey Consumer Fraud victims to pay for expert examination of the tires or for replacements.
New Jersey Consumer Fraud victims were deceived into believing they were purchasing both magazine subscription and participation in a sweepstakes with an increased chance of winning, when in fact the purchases were unrelated to the sweepstakes.
A New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim agrees to buy merchandise at one price and thereafter the seller increases the price of the merchandise.  The original agreed purchase price of merchandise, when measured against the "adjusted" price under a subsequent offer tendered by defendant, gives rise to an New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss of moneys or property.


REPLACEMENT VALUE OF MERCHANDISE AS PROOF OF NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ASCERTAINABLE LOSS
If a New Jersey business accused of New Jersey Consumer Fraud violates the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act by delivering defective merchandise and thereafter refuses to provide conforming merchandise, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim’s New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss is measured by the replacement value of those merchandise.     A New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim may be entitled to recover their "expectation interest", so that a New Jersey business who promises to deliver a product at a particular price must, at New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim’s option either deliver the product promised or its replacement value.  That New Jersey business accused of New Jersey Consumer Fraud can’t evade its promise by offering a mere refund of the product’s purchase price or a replacement product at a higher cost. Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, there is a rebuttable presumption that the regular price advertised on a sales sticker is a product’s replacement value.  To defeat the presumption, the New Jersey business accused of New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violations defending against a New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act claim must produce alternative evidence of the product’s replacement value.  If the New Jersey business accused of New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violations does so, the burden of proof returns to the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim.  But a New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim isn’t necessarily limited to damages being capped at the sales sticker of the merchandise but instead, is permitted to produce other evidence to prove replacement value.  


PRICE PAID FOR MERCHANDISE AS PROOF OF NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ASCERTAINABLE LOSS
In certain cases, the price paid for merchandise may serve as a measure of New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss.  


PRICE TAG ON MERCHANDISE AS PROOF OF NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ASCERTAINABLE LOSS
Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the price listed on a New Jersey business’s sales sticker is evidence of a product’s replacement value and therefore, could prove New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss.  For example, in a New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act case, if a New Jersey business’s use of a sales sticker fraudulently convinces the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim to purchase the merchandise, that business must coming forward with evidence of replacement value other than the sales sticker price.   Where a New Jersey business presents such evidence, the trier of fact (a New Jersey Consumer Fraud jury in a New Jersey Consumer Fraud jury trial and a judge in a case decided without a New Jersey Consumer Fraud jury) decides the issue based on all the evidence with the burden of persuasion returning to the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim.   Otherwise, judgment will normally be entered in favor of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim.   But the New Jersey Consumer Fraud victim is not limited to merely relying on the sales sticker as proof of New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss, since they may call witnesses and produce other evidence of replacement value, which could be higher than the sticker price.


OVERCHARGES FOR MERCHANDISE AS PROOF OF NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ASCERTAINABLE LOSS
Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, in some cases if the New Jersey Consumer Fraud plaintiff is overcharged for merchandise, that overcharge might prove New Jersey Consumer Fraud ascertainable loss.  For example, in one New Jersey Consumer Fraud case, the Attorney General proved consumers
were overcharged in the door-to-door sales in poor neighborhoods of books found practically
worthless for their intended educational purposes by sales representatives making numerous
misrepresentations and engaging in various other deceptive practices in soliciting customers. The merchant charged approximately two and one half times the merchandise’s reasonable market price.


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD REFUNDS
In addition to allowing New Jersey Consumer Fraud victims to recover New Jersey Consumer Fraud treble damages, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act focuses on allowing individual consumers to recover New Jersey Consumer Fraud refunds for losses caused by New Jersey Consumer Fraud violations Any person violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act shall be liable for a New Jersey Consumer Fraud refund of all moneys acquired by means of any practice declared in the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act to be unlawful.   The New Jersey Consumer Fraud refund of moneys may be recovered in a private action.   


NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ATTORNEY’S FEE AWARDS 
In a consumer fraud action, the Legislature has recognized that the right of access to the courts is meaningless unless the injured party has the resources to launch a suit.  New Jersey Consumer Fraud Attorney’s Fee Awards provide incentives to competent New Jersey attorneys to undertake high-risk cases and to represent victims of fraud who suffer relatively minor losses.  In this way, New Jersey Consumer Fraud Attorney’s Fee Awards is the Legislature's attempt to provide equal access to the courts by encouraging private enforcement of law.   The Legislature intended plaintiffs to have access to the court system to pursue relatively small claims against deceptive retailers.  In that respect, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Attorney's Fees provision one of the deterrent aspects of the legislation, and therefore, fraudulent retailers should beware.   If the New Jersey court award damages to a New Jersey Consumer Fraud plaintiff, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act also requires the New Jersey court to award New Jersey Consumer Fraud attorney’s fees against the New Jersey Consumer Fraud defendant.   The New Jersey Consumer Fraud defendant could face a judgment to pay whatever reasonable New Jersey Consumer Fraud attorney’s fees that the New Jersey Consumer Fraud plaintiff incurred in the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act case.  Only a New Jersey judge decides the proper amount of a New Jersey Consumer Fraud attorney’s fee award.  




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