Law Office Of Paul DePetris
paul@newjerseylemon.com

New Jersey Pool Contractor Fraud

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or forms on this website are the latest versions, that they lack typographical errors or that they have not changed, repealed or superseded by other laws.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 POOL CONTRACTOR FRAUD FAQS

WHAT IS NEW JERSEY POOL CONTRACTOR FRAUD?
Every year, Homeowners become New Jersey Pool Store fraud victims when they enter into New Jersey home contracts with deceptive home contractors who mislead the Homeowners to part with their money. Don’t be a victim of New Jersey pool contractor fraud! Know the telltale signs of New Jersey pool contractor fraud and protect yourself from such fraudulent home contractor schemes to rip you off! Also, if you are already a New Jersey pool contractor fraud victim, hire a New Jersey consumer fraud attorney to help you bring a Lawsuit against the New Jersey pool contractor. The State of New Jersey does not have the resources to fight all New Jersey Consumer Fraud but the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act allows private New Jersey attorneys to represent homeowners and to fight for their rights against fraudulent New Jersey pool contractors. If you think you are a victim of New Jersey Pool Installer Fraud, Consult with an experienced New Jersey pool fraud lawyer to find out if you qualify for that type of relief against a New Jersey pool contractor.

HOW DOES THE NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT HELP NEW JERSEY POOL STORE FRAUD VICTIMS?
In 1960, the New Jersey Legislature passed the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act "to permit the New Jersey Attorney General to combat the increasingly widespread practice of defrauding the consumer." The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act conferred on the New Jersey Attorney General the power to investigate New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act complaints and promulgate rules and regulations that have the force of law. In 1971, the New Jersey Legislature amended the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act to "give New Jersey one of the strongest consumer protection laws in the nation." The New Jersey Legislature expanded the definition of "unlawful practice" to include "unconscionable commercial practices" and broadened the New Jersey Attorney General's enforcement powers. That amendment also provided for private causes of action, with an award of treble damages, attorneys' fees, and costs. New Jersey’s government believed that those provisions would provide "easier access to the courts for the consumer, [would] increase the attractiveness of consumer actions to attorneys and [would] also help reduce the burdens on the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs." The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act provides that: (1) The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, use or employment by any person of any unconscionable commercial practice, deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, or the knowing, concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact with intent that others rely upon such concealment, suppression or omission, in connection with the sale or with the subsequent performance of such person as aforesaid, whether or not any person has in fact been misled, deceived or damaged thereby, is declared to be an unlawful practice; (2) any person who suffers any ascertainable loss of moneys or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by another person of any method, act, or practice declared unlawful under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act may bring an action. In any action under this section the court shall, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award threefold the damages sustained by any person in interest. In all actions under this section the court shall also award reasonable attorneys' fees, filing fees and reasonable costs of suit.

New Jersey courts have emphasized that like most remedial legislation, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act should be construed liberally in favor of consumers. Although initially designed to combat "sharp practices and dealings" that victimized consumers by luring them into purchases through fraudulent or deceptive means, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is no longer aimed solely at "shifty, fast-talking and deceptive merchant[s]" but reaches "nonsoliciting artisans" as well. Thus, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is designed to protect the public even when a merchant acts in good faith. Moreover, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act's includes a provision authorizing consumers to bring their own private actions, which is integral to fulfilling the legislative purposes of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is broad remedial legislation enacted for the protection of consumers of a variety of goods and services, and its history has been marked by the "constant expansion of consumer protection."

NEW JERSEY POOL CONTRACTOR FRAUD UNCONSCIONABLE COMMERCIAL PRACTICES
New Jersey Pool Store fraud may involve an unconscionable commercial practice -- an activity in the public marketplace, which is basically unfair or unjust, which materially departs from standards of good faith, honesty in fact and fair dealing.

NEW JERSEY POOL CONTRACTOR FRAUD DECEPTION
New Jersey pool installer fraud may involve conduct or an advertisement which is misleading to an average Homeowner to the extent that it is capable of and likely to mislead an average Homeowner. It does not matter that, at a later time, it could have been explained to a more knowledgeable and inquisitive Homeowner, nor need the conduct or advertisement actually have misled the Homeowner. It is not important that the New Jersey pool contractor may have acted in good faith. Instead, it is the capacity to mislead that is important.

NEW JERSEY POOL CONTRACTOR FRAUD FRAUDULENT CONDUCT
New Jersey pool installer fraud may involve the commission of fraudulent conduct -- a perversion of the truth, a misstatement or a falsehood communicated to another person and creating the possibility that that other person will be cheated.

NEW JERSEY POOL CONTRACTOR FRAUD FALSE PRETENSE
New Jersey Pool Store fraud may involve a false pretense -- an untruth knowingly expressed by a New Jersey pool contractor.

NEW JERSEY POOL CONTRACTOR FRAUD FALSE PROMISE
New Jersey Pool Store fraud may involve a false promise -- an untrue commitment or pledge, communicated to a Homeowner to create the possibility that the Homeowner will be misled.

NEW JERSEY POOL CONTRACTOR FRAUD MISREPRESENTATION
New Jersey pool installer fraud may involve a misrepresentation -- a statement made to deceive or mislead. In this type of New Jersey Pool Store fraud, a New Jersey pool contractor makes an untrue statement to the Homeowner about a fact which is important or significant to a pool contractor sale or advertisement and which is communicated to the Homeowner to create the possibility that the Homeowner will be misled.

NEW JERSEY POOL CONTRACTOR FRAUD KNOWING OMISSION VIOLATIONS
New Jersey Pool Store fraud may involve an omission – a contractor’s failure to do something that the law requires be done. Omissions that violate the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act consist of any of the following:
• knowing concealment of any material fact from the Homeowner.
• suppression of any material fact from the Homeowner.
• omission of any material fact from the Homeowner.

NEW JERSEY POOL STORE FRAUD PER SE HOME REPAIR VIOLATONS
To accomplish the objectives and to carry out the duties prescribed by the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the New Jersey Attorney General, in addition to other powers conferred by the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, is allowed to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary, which shall have the force of law. Over the years following the initial adoption of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the New Jersey Legislature has repeatedly amended and expanded the reach of its provisions, often by adding sections to address particular areas of concern and to include them specifically within its protective sweep. The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has enacted extensive regulations, consistent with the foregoing authority, to deal with practices susceptible to New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violations, such as may be found under home-improvement contracts. A major purpose of the New Jersey pool installer Practices regulations is to provide "objective assurances" of the "terms and criteria according to which home-improvement work [should] be done." However, the regulations are not meant to be exhaustive, and practices not specified in the regulations may nevertheless constitute unlawful consumer fraud. Another example of this expansion of the application of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act can be seen in the New Jersey Legislature's 2004 enactment of the Registration Act. That statute, and the implementing regulations promulgated thereafter, created a framework within the CFA that regulates contractors who are engaged in the business of making or selling contractors. Although the legislative history surrounding the New Jersey Registration Act is sparse, there can be no doubt about the fact that the New Jersey Legislature regarded the New Jersey pool Store industry as being greatly in need of regulation. Indeed, the seriousness with which the New Jersey Legislature approached the perceived problems in that industry is reflected both in the expansive language of the New Jersey Contractors’ Registration Act’s definitional reach and in the remedies that the New Jersey Contractors’ Registration Act authorizes. In particular, the New Jersey Legislature made the New Jersey Contractors’ Registration Act applicable broadly, by defining those in the New Jersey pool Store industry that would fall within its terms without regard to the type of business entity through which they operated - defining contractors to include persons operating through "corporation, partnership, association and any other form of business organization or entity" together with their "officers, representatives, agents and employees". Similarly, the New Jersey Contractors’ Registration Act used sweeping language in its definition of "contractors" so that the requirements of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act would reach an extensive variety of persons and entities involved in the New Jersey pool Store business. As a result, the New Jersey Contractors’ Registration Act applies to individuals and entities engaged in "remodeling, altering, renovating, repairing, restoring, modernizing, moving, demolishing, or otherwise improving or modifying of the whole or any part of any residential or non-commercial property . . . [and] shall also include insulation installation, and the conversion of existing commercial structures into residential or non-commercial property." Apart from those expansive definitions both as to the persons or entities that are engaged in the business and as to the nature of the business of contractors, the statutory enforcement mechanisms chosen by the New Jersey Legislature independently suggest an intention to provide strong protections to consumers. Some are regulatory in nature, for example, requiring any person or entity that falls within the definition of a home contractor to register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and to make detailed annual disclosures that might subject it to suspension or revocation of its registration, N.J.S.A. 56:8-141. Other provisions, however, relate either directly or indirectly to the remedies that the New Jersey Legislature intended the statute to make available to the consumer. As an example, persons or entities involved in the New Jersey pool Store industry are obligated to "secure [and] maintain . . . commercial general liability insurance" in the required amount. In practice, the requirement that the New Jersey pool Stores carry insurance does not protect consumers directly; instead the New Jersey Contractors’ Registration Act provides two other, powerful means of enforcement. The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act specifically makes any violation of its provisions "an unlawful practice" subject to the remedies available under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, as well as a fourth degree criminal offense. The New Jersey Contractors’ Registration Act’s identification of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act as the New Jersey Contractors’ Registration Act’s principal civil enforcement mechanism, particularly in light of the adoption of implementing regulations that identify numerous prohibited practices such as the New Jersey pool installer Practices Regulations, strongly suggests that the New Jersey Legislature intended to broadly empower consumers of these services to seek relief for violations and to be made whole. The more recently enacted statute governing home contractors, which was codified as an amendment to the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, similarly includes a registration provision. In place of the warranty protections required of new home builders, however, this statute protects homeowners by requiring insurance, disclosures, and, through the implementing regulations, by specifying numerous practices that are defined to be unlawful, all specifically deemed to fall within the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and, therefore, made subject to its enforcement mechanisms and remedies. Reading the two statutes together, the New Jersey Legislature planned to create a seamless web of protections for the homeowner against New Jersey pool installer fraud.

WHO IS LIABLE FOR NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD IN A NEW JERSEY POOL INSTALLER FRAUD CASE?
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act uses the term "person," which the statute itself defines:
The term "person" as used in the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act shall include any natural person or his legal representative, partnership, corporation, company, trust, business entity or association, and any agent, employee, salesman, partner, officer, director, member, stockholder, associate, trustee or cestuis que trustent thereof[.] The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act protects consumers who have fallen prey to three separate kinds of unlawful practices. The language of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act specifically identifies a variety of affirmative acts, including "deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, [and] misrepresentation," and it also identifies as actionable "the knowing[] concealment, suppression or omission of any material fact," if intentional. In addition, by referring to "unconscionable commercial practice[s]," and by authorizing the New Jersey Attorney General to promulgate regulations that shall have the force of law, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act permits claims to be based on regulatory violations. In light of the broad remedial purposes of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and the expansive sweep of the definition of "person," it is clear that an individual who commits an affirmative act or a knowing omission that the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act has made actionable can be liable individually. Although the statute would also impose liability on the individual's corporate employer for such an affirmative act, there is no basis on which to conclude that the statute meant to limit recourse to the corporation, and thereby to shield the individual from any liability in doing so. Corporate officers and employees could be individually liable pursuant to the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act for their affirmative acts of misrepresentation to a consumer. Individuals may be independently liable for violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, notwithstanding the fact that they were acting through a corporation at the time. To be sure, individuals are not liable merely because of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violation of the corporate entity. Instead, New Jersey courts focus on the New Jersey Consumer Fraud of the individual employee or corporate officer to determine whether the specific individual had engaged in conduct prohibited by the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. Consult with an experienced New Jersey pool fraud lawyer to find out if you qualify for that type of relief against a contractor.

HOW DO YOU PROVE A NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT VIOLATION IN A NEW JERSEY POOL INSTALLER FRAUD CASE?
To violate the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, a New Jersey pool Store must commit an "unlawful practice" as defined in the legislation. Unlawful practices fall into three general categories: affirmative acts, knowing omissions, and regulation violations. A practice can be unlawful even if no person was in fact misled or deceived thereby. The capacity to mislead is the prime ingredient of all types of New Jersey Consumer Fraud. When the alleged New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violation consists of an affirmative act, intent is not an essential element and the plaintiff need not prove that the defendant intended to commit an unlawful act. However, when the alleged New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violation consists of an omission, the plaintiff must show that the defendant acted with knowledge, and intent is an essential element of the fraud. In respect of what constitutes an "unconscionable commercial practice," unconscionability is "an amorphous concept obviously designed to establish a broad business ethic." The standard of conduct that the term "unconscionable" implies is lack of "good faith, honesty in fact and observance of fair dealing." However, "a breach of warranty, or any breach of contract, is not per se unfair or unconscionable * * * and a breach of warranty alone does not violate a consumer protection statute." Because any breach of warranty or contract is unfair to the non-breaching party, the law permits that party to recoup remedial damages in an action on the contract; however, by providing that a court should treble those damages and should award attorneys' fees and costs, the New Jersey Legislature must have intended that substantial aggravating circumstances be present in addition to the breach. The third category of New Jersey pool Store unlawful acts consists of violations of specific regulations promulgated under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. In those instances, intent is not an element of the unlawful practice, and the regulations impose strict liability for such violations. The New Jersey pool contractors subject to the regulations are assumed to be familiar with them, so that any violation of the regulations, regardless of intent or moral culpability, constitutes a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. To establish a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act a plaintiff need not prove an unconscionable commercial practice. Rather, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act specifies the conduct that will amount to an unlawful practice in the disjunctive, as "any unconscionable commercial practice, deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, or the knowing[] concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact * * * ." Proof of any one of those acts or omissions or of a violation of a regulation will be sufficient to establish unlawful conduct under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. Any person who suffers any ascertainable loss of moneys or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by a New Jersey pool Store of any method, act, or practice declared unlawful under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act may bring an action or assert a counterclaim therefor in any court of competent jurisdiction. In any action under this section the court shall, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award threefold the damages sustained by any person in interest. In all actions under this section the court shall also award reasonable attorneys' fees, filing fees and reasonable costs of suit. An award of treble damages and attorneys' fees is mandatory under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act if a New Jersey Consumer Fraud claimant proves both an unlawful practice under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and an ascertainable loss. The use of the word "shall" in the statute suggests as much. Moreover, the legislative history indicates that the provision for attorneys' fees was intended to impose on the defendant in a private action "a greater financial penalty [than in an action brought by the New Jersey Attorney General] and * * * [to ensure] that the financial cost to the private plaintiff was minimized and compensation maximized." In limited cases, a New Jersey Consumer Fraud claimant can recover reasonable attorneys' fees, filing fees, and costs if that plaintiff can prove that the defendant committed an unlawful practice, even if the New Jersey Pool Store fraud victim cannot show any ascertainable loss and thus cannot recover treble damages. The fundamental remedial purpose of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act dictates that plaintiffs should be able to pursue New Jersey pool installer fraud cases without experiencing financial hardship. Don’t hesitate to get a no obligation consultation from an experienced New Jersey pool fraud lawyer.

WHAT PENALTIES DO NEW JERSEY POOL CONTRACTORS FACE IF THEY VIOLATE THE NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT?
If a Homeowner is a victim of New Jersey pool installer fraud which also constitutes a New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violation, the Homeowner may be entitled to the following types of relief:
• Cancellation of fraudulent debts.
• Treble damages for ascertainable loss of money or property caused by the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act Violation.
• Attorney’s fee award for prosecuting the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act Violation or defending against lawsuits by contractors to collect a fraudulent debt.
• Refund of money lost due to the New Jersey pool contractor’s New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act Violation.
If you think you have a New Jersey pool installer fraud case, call an experienced New Jersey pool fraud lawyer.

HOW DO I RECOVER DAMAGES UNDER THE NEW JERSEY CONSUMER FRAUD ACT FOR NEW JERSEY POOL INSTALLER FRAUD?
A Homeowner or customer who is able to prove that a New Jersey pool contractor or New Jersey pool Store or the seller of such services committed a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act which directly cause of the New Jersey Pool Store fraud victim to suffer an ascertainable loss of money or property is entitled to receive an award of triple damages, attorney’s fees and litigation costs. In certain situations, a New Jersey Pool Store fraud victim may also be entitled to a refund or to cancel a New Jersey fraudulent debt. However, under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, a New Jersey Pool Store fraud victim is not entitled to recover pain and suffering damages. If you think you have a pool fraud case, call an experienced New Jersey pool fraud lawyer

WHAT HAPPENS IF A POOL STORE TRIES TO COLLECT A FRAUDUENT HOME REPAIR BILL?
If a Homeowner is a victim of New Jersey Consumer Fraud, the New Jersey pool installer bill may be uncollectible or void. Consult with an experienced New Jersey pool fraud lawyer to find out if you qualify for that type of relief against a New Jersey pool contractor. 
 

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