DECEPTION AND THE NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT
The New Jersey Courts have determined and held that the defendant’s acts of good faith are not necessarily a defense to a consumer fraud action. The Courts have held, as set forth in the Model Jury Civil Charges, that it is the capacity to mislead that is the important aspect of consumer fraud. What exactly is the capacity to mislead in the context of a consumer transaction?
The business, who sells a product, including a car, is charged with the knowledge of all the associated Administrative Code Regulations. The seller of an automobile or a product is assumed to be knowledgeable in the industry in which they sell a specific product such as a vehicle. Thus, the seller of a product or a vehicle in making certain representations pertaining to that product have a duty/obligation to make sure that those representations and warranties with the product are accurate, complete and not misleading in any way. As previously set forth, it is the capacity to mislead that is important in a consumer fraud claim. Thus, the defendant in a defense to a consumer fraud claim cannot say we did not know, we were not sure or we did the best we could. Again, good faith is not a defense to certain claims under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The seller of a product is better suited than the purchaser of a product to assure that the representations pertaining to the product are in fact accurate and thus the consumer is not misled.