We are Orange County Fraud Attorneys
Fraud, concealment and related claims are complex and highly emotional. It takes knowledgeable and skilled lawyers to navigate this high exposure area. Brown & Charbonneau, LLP’s lawyers have extensive experience with these cases, including numerous trial wins under their belt! This includes handling the complex related to claims for punitive damages.
Business owners and officers have a fiduciary duty to shareholders to consider the best interests of the business when making decisions. Unfortunately, this does not always occur. Fraud, misrepresentation, concealment can undermine the value of an investment and destroy the long-term survival of a business enterprise. This wrongful conduct is frequently seen in the sale of a business.
Fraud and misrepresentation can also occur in real estate and construction transactions or whenever a contract between two parties is negotiated and signed. In many cases, the claims include alter ego liability as well. Whatever the circumstances, fraudulent behavior is never acceptable. It is not only a crime, but is also a civil wrong and those who are affected should consult with an attorney and file a lawsuit to recover monetary damages.
Brown & Charbonneau, LLP is an experienced Irvine, CA business law firm with extensive experience representing clients when fraud, misrepresentation or concealment has occurred. We have successfully handled numerous fraud claims to jury verdict. With 75 years of collective experience, we are uniquely equipped to help clients develop the best legal strategies in these complex cases. Call today to learn more about how we can help.
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Fraud, Misrepresentation & Concealment
The California Civil Jury Instructions provide information to juries on how to make decisions in cases arising from allegations of fraud or deceit. Definitions are provided to juries on the meaning of intentional misrepresentation, concealment, false promises and negligent misrepresentation, among other wrongful conduct.
When your case goes to trial, the plaintiff must prove all of the elements of a claimed wrong. For concealment, for example, a plaintiff must prove that he or she was harmed because the defendant concealed information. To make a successful claim, the plaintiff must prove:
- Defendant makes a material false statement to you (or conceals information)
- That they know the statement is false and intent to cause you to act
- You rely upon the false material statement or concealment
- Your reliance was reasonable
- Your reliance on the false statement or concealment caused you harm or damage
If someone (or a business) is found liable for fraud, the plaintiff can recover all damages caused by the fraud. The jury may also assess punitive damages in addition to actual damages to punish the defendant.
Brown & Charbonneau, LLP is here to help. Our attorneys will carefully review your situation and help to determine if fraud or concealment has occurred under California law. We can conduct comprehensive investigations, find expert witnesses who will testify on your behalf, and put together the strongest possible case.
There is a science and art to scams that befuddles even the best among us. Fortunately, a fraud works for a while and upon its discovery, the tables turn on the fraudster. But so long as you have a good Irvine fraud lawyer by your side.
If you’re a victim of fraudulent misrepresentation or concealment, the first step you must take is to make a claim against the guilty party. Our experienced litigators have successfully chased those responsible for complex forms of fraud and obtained compensation for clients. Should you instead want to negotiate the case out of court, we can arrange for an arbitration process, which may also bring about a satisfactory outcome. Don’t wait to get legal advice – contact us today.
What is fraudulent misrepresentation?
Fraudulent misrepresentation is a lie to trick someone and get them to enter a contract. The party making the claim knows very well that it is false, and even understands that it can cause some measure of damage to the other party. Fraudulent activity can be carried out by an individual, a group of individuals, or a business firm.
- A drug company looking to be acquired claims to be working on a promising experimental treatment but fails to mention that it failed in clinical trials. As the acquirer would consider the potential of the treatment in calculating valuation, it would suffer damages by overpaying.
- Elon Musk’s famous claim that Twitter misrepresented information about its key metrics and distorted its value in an attempt to get him to buy the platform at an inflated price.
Under California law, fraud encompasses a number of crimes, including:
Fraudulent business practices
- Misappropriation of funds
- Misappropriation of trade secrets
- Using or sharing of confidential business information
Real property fraud
- Foreclosure fraud
- Forging a deed
- Predatory lending
- Rent skimming
- Falsifying appraisals
- Credit card fraud
- Securities fraud
- Check fraud
- Health insurance fraud
- Automobile fraud
- Welfare fraud
- Workers’ compensation fraud
- Financial elder abuse
- Elder home abuse
- Obtaining property by deception or over valuation
- Claiming for works not undertaken
- Manipulating change orders or schedule of values
- Billing for unperformed work
- Improper wage rates or categories
Fraud attorneys may specialize in a particular type of fraud.
- Healthcare fraud lawyers represent healthcare providers facing charges of healthcare fraud.
- Consumer fraud lawyers come to the aid of victims of consumer fraud. Common types of consumer fraud include identity theft, mortgage fraud, credit and debit card fraud, debt collection fraud, and prize and lottery fraud.
- Investment fraud lawyers represent investors who’ve been tricked into fraudulent schemes by brokers.
- Securities fraud lawyers focus on cases involves Ponzi and pyramid schemes, broker embezzlement, high-yield investment fraud, and hedge fund fraud
Brown & Charbounneau LLP specializes in business and corporate litigation, civil litigation (elder abuse, harassment, and slander), and construction and real estate fraud. We have a strong track-record of success across traditional litigation and mediation.
Are you entitled to damages?
Yes, the standard remedy for fraudulent misrepresentation is damages. The damages are typically in the form of monetary compensation for the wronged party.
Fraudulent misrepresentation can be considered a contract breach. The court will award damages if it finds that the defendant breached some right. The sum of money awarded is calculated based on the actual losses suffered by you or punitive damages aimed at punishing the wrongdoer.
Based on your case, you may be awarded expectancy damages or reliance damages. The former is the amount you expected to receive under the contract. The latter puts you in a position you would have been had the promise not been made in the first place. The court may choose to award a specific performance, a remedy where the court instructs the party to carry out its promise as closely as possible.
Fraudulent Misrepresentation v. Concealment
Fraudulent misrepresentation is a false representation of a material fact, which the speaker knows is false at the time it is made, and which the listener reasonably relies on to their detriment. In misrepresentation cases, the making of a false statement is a requirement.
Consider the following example: the seller of real property tells a potential purchaser that they own the property free and clear of any liens or encumbrances. When the seller made this statement, they knew that the property was actually encumbered by a Deed of Trust in the amount of $500,000.. The purchaser relies on the seller’s false statement, and purchases the property. This would be an example of fraudulent misrepresentation.
It is important to note that reliance on the part of the defrauded party must be reasonable for there to be a claim. So if the purchaser in the prior example saw on a title report that the property was encumbered by a Deed of Trust before they purchased it, they would have no claim for misrepresentation because any reliance on the seller’s false statement would have been unreasonable.
Unlike fraudulent misrepresentation, concealment does not require the making of a false statement. Concealment is when a party intentionally conceals material facts, which if known by the defrauded party would cause them to not follow through with the transaction. For concealment to be present, however, there must be a “duty to disclose”.
A duty to disclose can arise in several situations including where there is a fiduciary duty, where one party makes certain statements that would require the disclosure of additional facts to be completely accurate, and where the facts concealed are known only to the concealing party and could not reasonably be discovered by the defrauded party.
In the prior example, if the seller knew that the real property had cracks in the foundation that would not appear on an inspection, but failed to disclose that to the purchaser, the purchaser may have a claim for concealment. Again, if the facts were discoverable, or the purchaser was unreasonable in failing to inspect the property, a concealment claim may not be present.
What are the Remedies for Fraud?
The primary remedy for fraudulent misrepresentation or concealment is monetary damages. These damages can be measured either by trying to put the parties in the same position they would have been in had the fraud not occurred, or by looking at the total monetary loss the defrauded party suffered by reason of the misrepresentation or concealment. In addition to monetary damages, fraud claims can come with other forms of relief. One significant example is that of rescission. Rescission voids a contract or other document as if the agreement had never been entered into in the first place. Both parties are put in the same position they would be in if they never engaged in the transaction that was tainted by fraud. Further, fraud claims also come with the potential to receive punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer, and the amount of damages is intended to act as a deterrent for future conduct, and is based largely on a party’s net-worth.
Who has the burden of proof in fraud cases?
Like other claims, the Plaintiff or party initiating the action has the burden of proving a fraud claim. In or to do so, a Plaintiff must prove each element of fraud by a preponderance of the evidence, i.e. that it is more likely than not that the element has been satisfied.
How is fraud prosecuted in California?
Frauds can be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor. A fraud is prosecuted as a felony depending on the guilty party’s criminal history and the facts of the case particularly with regard to the value of the fraud. If the fraud can be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor, it becomes what is known as a ‘wobbler’ under California law. Some fraud cases are prosecuted as though they were thefts.
A felony count of fraud can result in probation or prison term, and fines amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. Only an experienced fraud lawyer in Irvine can make the difference between a harsh and lenient sentence. Depending on the circumstances of the alleged crime, the counsel for the defense can even have the charge dismissed or negotiated to a lesser crime.
What options does the defendant have?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, the defendant may choose any of the following options:
- Having charges dismissed/dropped
- Negotiating a plea deal that results in the least possible penalty
- Seeking a not guilty verdict
The stakes are higher when the defendant has calculated being caught and prepared a plan for legal representation to limit your recovery. But even if the party is a seasoned fraudster, they will have left a trail of patterns that you can be certain your fraud attorney will leverage to build a strong case.
Get legal help
Our battle-tested litigators are logical and dispassionate. We don’t give up without a good fight! We also have the foresight to resort to alternative legal remedies and creative dispute resolution strategies just short of trial.
Contact our Irvine fraud lawyer team. Undo the wrong you’ve suffered and get back to your business and life as early as possible.