Tuesday, February 07, 2006

consumer protection - pleading - fraud v. misrepresentation - contract under seal - limitations

Christopher v. First Mutual Corp. - ED Pa. - January 20, 2006


pleading - fraudulent v. deceptive conduct
The district court found that under the catchall provision of the state consumer protection law, 73 P.S. sec. 201-2(xxi), which prohibits "fraudulent or deceptive conduct which created a likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding," it is "no longer necessary for a plaintiff to plead all of the elements of common law fraud to recover" under that provision, where a plaintiff is claiming deception rather than fraud.

It was noted that "courts have divided on whether a plaintiff must meet the heightened fraud pleading requirement," Skurnowicz v. Lucci, 798 A.2d 788 (Pa. Ssuper. 2002) or a less strict requirement, Flores v. Shapiro & Kreisman, 246 F.Supp.2d 427, 432 (ED Pa. 2002), and that the state supreme court had not yet addressed the issue.

statute of limitations - contract under seal
The court also held that the 20-year statute of limitations applied where the document contained the typed words "In witness whereof, I hereunto set my hand and official seal" and the word "seal" was next to each witness signature, 42 Pa. C.S. sec. 5525(a)(8) (contract under seal).

Donald Marritz, staff attorney
MidPenn Legal Services