Jay Rice Wins At New Jersey Supreme Court On Consumer Fraud Act Claim

On January 24, 2019, the New Jersey Supreme Court handed Nagel Rice a complete victory on behalf of its client, All The Way Towing, LLC.

In its suit, All The Way Towing purchased a tow truck and chassis from two different manufacturers, defendants Bucks County, Int’l and Dynamic Towing Equipment and Manufacturing, Inc. Despite assuring All The Way Towing that the two components of its requested tow truck were compatible, Bucks County was unable to deliver the truck as purchased, requiring All The Way Towing to refuse delivery and bring suit.

Initially, the trial court dismissed All The Way Towing’s consumer fraud claim because it found that because the purchased truck was “customized” it was not covered under the consumer fraud act’s definition of “merchandise.” The appellate division, however, reversed and held that even though the truck was “customized” it was not “complex” and therefore was subject to protection under the Act.

On appeal before the Supreme Court, on behalf of All The Way Towing, Jay Rice argued that because the truck components were public availability and the customization did not involve the use of outside experts, the truck must be afforded protection under the Consumer Fraud Act.

The Supreme Court, accepted Nagel Rice’s arguments and ruled that the truck constituted “merchandise” under the Consumer Fraud Act because any member of the public could have, if they wanted to, purchased the truck, even if it were not a “popular” purchase. The court also agreed that customization alone did not make the truck ineligible to qualify as “merchandise.” In so ruling, the Supreme Court set out a new multi-prong analysis that should apply to all lower courts in the future.

Jay Rice stated that “the Supreme Court’s decision reflects a common-sense approach to determining whether “custom” goods fall within the consumer fraud statute and correctly held that our client was entitled to benefit from that statute.”

Click the link here to view the Supreme Court’s opinion.