Defending fraud cases – enforcing the requirement of pleading fraud with particularity (specificity).
We often observe that claims in business and real estate disputes include allegations of fraud. Fraud allegations can be both upsetting and costly to resolve. Fraud claims often assert unethical or criminal conduct, knowingly perpetrated by person accused. Fraud claims might also be phrased as a negligent misrepresentation, which is just slightly less inflammatory.
Defending fraud claims requires some special strategies. At the most basic level, if requested, courts will require detailed allegations of fraud in comparison to other kinds of claims. Thus, while it might be sufficient to generally allege that a defendant failed to exercise due care and thus was negligent in operating a vehicle leading to a car accident, courts will typically require considerable factual detail in fraud allegations, including the date, time and place of the fraudulent communication and what exactly was fraudulent or dishonest. We believe it is most effective to start pursuing this detailed information early in the case.
In our experience, in both business and real estate cases, the alleged
fraudulent actions of various parties are often lumped together collectively and are not specifically pleaded. In a fraud case, being lumped together with others’ wrongful conduct is both upsetting and complicates each individual’s defense. Using procedural rules that require specificity in fraud allegations, we have found that courts are receptive to granting pre-answer motions seeking more detailed fraud allegations so that our clients can identify exactly what is attributed to them as opposed to all of the defendants collectively.
If you have been sued for fraud in a business or real estate transaction, the best time to start seeking specificity is through a pre-answer motion to dismiss or a motion for a more definite statement. By doing so, there is a good chance the court will require the plaintiff to plead their fraud allegations against you and any other defendants with great specificity (and individualized per each defendant), which will provide better clarity and efficiency in defending your position as the case unfolds. Incline Law Group LLP has had recent successes in various cases pursuing this strategy to the ultimate benefit of our clients.