Consumer Fraud and Contests

In essence, a completed transaction is not necessarily required to maintain a cause of action under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The defendant’s assertion that there was no “purchase” of goods (not accurate based on the plaintiff’s submissions) is insufficient to support a claim for dismissal on summary judgment.

A completed sale is not required. The definitions section of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act defines a sale as an offer for sale or an attempt directly or indirectly to sell, rent or distribute. Consistent with this, it defines an advertisement as an attempt to directly or indirectly by publication or otherwise… to induce directly or indirectly any person to enter into an obligation. An interpretation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act in the definitions sections to exempt offer for sales or advertisement from the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act cannot be deemed consistent with the remedial purposes of the act.

See Miller v. Publishers Clearing House Miller v. Publishers Clearing House 284 N.J.Super. 67 (App.Div 1995) There are specific cases which address the applicability of the consumer fraud act to those who have sold no goods to the plaintiff. See Cogar v. Monmouth Toyota 331 N.J. Super 1997 (App. Div. 2000). See Perth Amboy Iron Works v. American Home Assurance Co. 226 N.J. Super 200, 211 (App. Div. 1988), aff’d, 118 N.J. 249 (1990). In both of these cases, the Appellate Division held the Consumer Fraud Act applicable to individuals and/or businesses who sold no goods to the plaintiff.

In both of these cases, there were defendants who would not have sold any specific good to the plaintiff. The Court held that the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act applied to those who did not sell goods to the plaintiff. Further, the courts have held that there is no provision that the claimant must have a direct contractual relationship with the seller of the product of service. See Levy v. Edmund Buick 270 N.J. Super 563, 601, (L. Div. 1993).

Further, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act clearly states that a claim could be “in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise”. Again, the direct reading of the statute is consistent with the plaintiff’s allegations that this conduct is subject to the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act should be liberally construed to reflect its remedial purpose.