The New Jersey Supreme Court Appellate Division recently upheld a judgment against a stucco/masonry contractor under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act in Briggs v. Luisi, et al.. The case involved allegations by the owners of a single family home that the stucco/masonry contractor negligently performed repair work on the exterior of the house and on cracks in the home’s foundation, and that the contractor violated the Consumer Fraud Act through affirmative misrepresentations and knowing omissions in connection with a five year warranty issued covering the work.
After performing only a portion of the scope of work he was retained to complete, the contractor gave the homeowner a guarantee on the exterior stucco surface and the foundation of the entire house against cracks and defects for a period of five years. In discovery, however, the contractor admitted that he did not complete all of the work that was described in the warranty. He also acknowledged that the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lending institution relied on the warranty. Based on this evidence, the Appellate Court affirmed the $89,485 judgment against the contractor and in favor of plaintiff, as well as affirming the jury verdict apportioning twenty percent of the total damages against the contractor as attributable to the contractor’s violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, which portion was then trebled by the Court and was the basis for an award of counsel fees.