Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pennsylvania Civil Fraud

Civil fraud occurs during the sale of homes in Pittsburgh, PA more often than people realize.  I know this because I am handling a bunch of these cases right now.

In Pennsylvania, a person must use reasonable care to disclose a material fact if:

1. The person knows they are making or later learns they have made a misrepresentation, or

2. The person knows they are making or later learns they have made a misleading representation, or

3. The person knows they are making a misrepresentation or misleading representation or later learns that another is about to act in reliance upon it. If that person fails to do so, they are responsible for all harm resulting from that other person’s reliance on the misrepresentation or misleading representation.

A misrepresentation is any assertion by words or conduct that is not in accordance with the facts. A misleading representation is an assertion by words or conduct that is likely to mislead another regarding the facts.

Though in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this can happen a lot of ways, civil fraud often occurs when sellers of homes decide what to say (or not to say) on their seller disclosure statement.  If you have recently purchased a home and feel you were misled by the representation of the seller keep in mind the following:

A fact, with respect to a fraudulent representation, is material if it is one that would be of importance to a reasonable person in determining a choice of action. A material fact, however, need not be the sole or even a substantial factor in inducing or influencing a reasonable person’s decision. A fact is also material if the person who fails to disclose it knows that the person to whom it is made is likely to regard it as important even though a reasonable person would not regard it as important.

“Reliance” means a person would not have acted as they did or would not have failed to act unless they had considered the misrepresentation or misleading representation to be true.

If you buy a home and it turns out that there are some important issues that the seller "forgot" to mention, you may have grounds for a lawsuit sounding in fraud.  You should talk to an attorney immediately.  Keep in mind that fraud is an intentional tort that allows the injured party to seek punitive damages.  For more on punitive damages read this postShare this post :
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