Advertising Disclosure Email Disclosure

The only element of common law fraud a homeowner must prove to prevail in a claim under the Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law against their homebuilder is justifiable reliance.

January 15, 2016
Harding v. Cutler Group, Inc., 2015 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 4104 (Nov. 10, 2015)

The plaintiffs sued their homebuilder/contractor, alleging claims sounding in breach of contract, violation of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL), , 73 Pa.C.S. § 201-1, et seq., and breach of warranty arising from water infiltration issues with their new home. After a three-day bench trial, judgment was entered in favor of the homeowners, finding that the homebuilder was liable to the plaintiffs for breach of contract/warranty and for violations of the UTPCPL. The homebuilder appealed, alleging, in part, that the plaintiffs failed to prove the elements of common law fraud and, thus, should not have prevailed on their UTPCPL claims. The Pennsylvania Superior Court found that the plaintiffs were not obligated to prove all elements of common law fraud in order to prevail on a UTPCPL claim. Instead, the court held that, to prevail on a claim under the UTPCPL, a plaintiff need only prove one element of common law fraud – justifiable reliance. Specifically, the Superior Court held, “The plaintiff must demonstrate that he justifiably relied upon the defendant’s wrongful conduct or representation and that he suffered some harm as a result of that reliance.” Citing Weinberg v. Sun Co., 777 A.2d 442, 446 (Pa. 2001). Although this decision is not binding, as it is unpublished, it provides persuasive authority in support of an argument that a plaintiff is not required to prove all elements of common law fraud, including scienter, to prevail on a UTPCPL claim.

Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2016

Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2016 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.

Before you send this email please note:

You are attempting to send email, through a link on our website, to an attorney of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin or an employee in our firm. Please note that your email may not be treated as confidential and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely upon the transmission of an email through this website if you are seeking to enter into such a relationship. Until such time as we have agreed to represent you, no information in your email will be treated as confidential. Please contact us directly by telephone at 1.800.220.3308 if it is your intent to seek legal counsel with our firm or convey confidential information.

If it is still your intent to send this email, knowing that it may not be treated as confidential, you may accept our terms of agreement by pressing "OK". If you choose not to accept these terms of agreement you may navigate away from this page by pressing "Cancel."