In order to prove a fraud claim, a plaintiff must prove the following:
- Misrepresentation (false statement, concealment or nondisclosure) of a material fact
- Knowledge of falsity (“scienter”)
- Intent to defraud (i.e., to induce reliance)
- Justifiable reliance
- Resulting damages
In addition, a claim for constructive fraud may arise upon breach of a duty by someone in a fiduciary relationship who, without actual fraudulent intent, misleads another to his or her prejudice. (Civil Code § 1573; Schauer v. Mandarin Gems of California, Inc. (2005) 125 Cal.App.4th 949, 961.)
Fraud is an intentional tort which requires a difficult burden of proof. Proving the elements requires attention to detail and the skills of an experienced attorney. For example, proof that a defendant made a false statement, without showing that the defendant intended to defraud, is insufficient to prove the claim.
Because of the intentional nature of the tort of fraud, the prevailing plaintiff may be entitled to punitive damages under California Law. However, in order to recover punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove his or her case by clear and convincing evidence. (Civil Code § 3294.)
We have litigated claims in diverse contexts, and can assist you in prosecuting or defending a fraud claim. Let our experience and expertise work for you. Call us for a free consultation.