The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) prohibits merchants, sales people and contractors from using deceptive practices in the sales of goods or services to consumers. The CFA can also protect a business, when the business also is acting as a “consumer.” Recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court has examined the applicability of the CFA even where other statutes provide complete relief to a “consumer,” thereby expanding the reach of the CFA where such claims may have previously been precluded.
Within this past year, the Supreme Court of New Jersey, in Sun Chemical Corp. v. Fike Corp., 243 N.J. 319 (2020), held that where a CFA claim alleges express misrepresentations, such a claim may be asserted notwithstanding the plaintiff’s ability to assert a separate claim under the Product Liability Act (PLA). The PLA imposes liability on manufacturers or sellers of products for defects in design or manufacturing, or in a failure to warn of a defect or problem with the product, and otherwise provides the exclusive remedy for injuries to persons or damage to other property caused by such a defect. Thus, with this expansion of the CFA to claims otherwise covered by the PLA, both plaintiffs and defendants alike need to be familiar with the CFA, as it provides plaintiffs with a sword where it previously may not have been wielded.