Articles Tagged with The Law Office of Jonathan Rudnick

Opening Statement

I just updated my webpage to include an example of an opening statement in a trial against the car dealership for selling a car, used car with prior damage. Ordinarily, this takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes depending on how the court schedules the opening statements. This is the usual length of the trial in case which might last 3 or 4 days. Defense opening statement which goes 2nd at trial, would also be about 15 to 20 minutes.

This is an example of an opening statement, and a trial, where the plaintiff purchased the vehicle and the dealer told him the car was not in an accident. The plaintiff later discovered that the car was in an accident. This is an example of what I might tell the jury in a similar or substantially similar case. Each case is completely different but this auto fraud case is a bit of the standard fact pattern and has many common factors across cases I have handled.


New Jersey law permits claims for fraud to be filed in the civil justice system. However, when pleading fraud the law requires a specificity of pleading. The law requires that the defendant should be put on notice as to what the fraudulent statements for which they are being sued. In a general sense it is best to plead who made the statement, to whom it was made, what the specific statement was and what was relied upon by the person suing. Again, this is in the general sense. However, the defendant should be put on notice as to what is being plead and why they are being sued.

This is known as the heightened pleading requirement. Usually, New Jersey is a notice pleading state. This means that you do not have to specifically state every fact upon which you will base your lawsuit. The facts only have to be stated in a general sense and generally refer to the cause of action. New Jersey has a very liberal pleading requirement with regard to the initial pleadings. This is different than federal court which has a heightened pleading requirement. Nonetheless, if you plead specific facts and legal claims the defendant is required to either admit or deny these claims in their answer. Sometimes, as a matter of strategy, it is better to plead a more specific claim than a general claim. In this fashion you might be able to determine what the nature and extent of the defenses will be.

This rule would apply to all transactions all plaintiffs and all defendants. Remember, it is covered in the New Jersey Court rules and it is a requirement. It is not uncommon that the fraud is not specifically plead and the defendants did not object to the filing of the claim. This could be a matter of strategy also. However, if the defendant does object to the type of pleadings were filed they would file a motion to compel a more specific statement of the fraud. The court would then either dismiss the complaint or permit an amended pleading to be filed with the court. In this way there’s fairness to both the plaintiff and the defendant.

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