Have you ever bought a product from not-so-reputable business? If so then you may need the protection of America’s consumer fraud laws. Fraud is defined as an intentional misrepresentation of a material fact made by one person to another with the knowledge that the information is false with the purpose of inducing the other party to rely on the statement, resulting in injuries or damages. Essentially, it is fraud in the consumer context. Note that fraud does not need to be only affirmative statements but can be omissions of important information that would have been material in helping a consumer in making a product purchase.
Fraud may be closely connected with products liability as products that have injured others may have also been inadequate in its warnings and information to the point where there may be a basis for an allegation of fraud. Thus, if you have been injured by a product, seek and attorney immediately and the situation can be assessed to see if additional torts like fraud may apply.
In a fraud allegation it is important to note that a false statement alone is not enough for an allegation to stand. The statement must be intentionally made. That means the person must have known that the statement is false at the time it was declared. It must also be a material fact. A false statement that would not have influenced the purchase decision is not legally fraud. Sometimes some statements are accepted as “puffery” meaning that they are not considered to be material because they merely provide praise to a product that no reasonable person would take seriously. Examples include a product claiming to be the best in the Midwest. A plaintiff alleging fraud also needs to prove that the statement was material and that the intent was for the plaintiff to rely on the statement and that the plaintiff actually did reasonably rely on the statement. The plaintiff must also establish that but for the fraud, the injury would not have happened and that reasonable inquiry would not have uncovered the truth.
Damages for this tort will depend on the severity of the injury and the type of product involved. It is important that when you suspect fraud in the consumer context to report them to your local Attorney General. All states have a consumer protection division and if they get enough complaints they may be able to file a class action lawsuit. It would also be wise to seek counsel from a local attorney. They will be able to assess your case and determine an appropriate course of action. Sometimes it is better to pursue criminal fraud charges or both.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases.
Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance. If you were injured by a product please call one of our attorneys at David K. Kremin & Associates, and we will give you a free consultation. We never charge unless we collect for you. Please call 1(800) ASK-A-LAWYER or 1(800)275-2529.