Fraud is an intentional tort made up of the following elements:
- The person named in the lawsuit made an intentional misrepresentation or omission to the person who is suing.
- The defendant intended to cause the plaintiff to rely on the misrepresentation or omission.
- The plaintiff justifiably relied upon the statements.
- There was some form of damage or injury.
The first requirement is that there is a misrepresentation. If Travis is selling Dean a car and Travis says the engine is new when he knows it is not, then that is a misrepresentation.
A misrepresentation can also be in the form of an omission. For example, when selling a house, the homeowner is required to fill out disclosures. If there is a section on water damage and the homeowner knows there is such damage but leaves that part of the form blank, then that may be a fraudulent omission. There can also be an omission by silence. For example, if a home buyer asks if anyone has ever died in a home for sale or if there have been any mold issues and the broker pretends not to hear or otherwise ignores the question, there can be omission by silence.
The next requirement is that the misrepresentation be intentional. For example, if the lie was told but was an honest mistake or if the lie was simply a remark made as a joke with no evil intent, then it may not qualify as fraud. Also, the defendant must make the representation intending that the plaintiff rely on it.Third, there must be justifiable reliance on the misrepresentation. This means that the plaintiff must actually believe and rely upon the lie. If not, then it cannot be fraud. In addition, the reliance must be reasonable. For example, if Isabella is selling her 30-year-old car that has a cracked windshield and she says the car is in excellent condition, then it would not be reasonable for anyone to believe that.
Elements of the Tort of Fraud
In cases of fraud, if a case is brought in court, a plaintiff must typically plead the complaint with specificity. That way the defendant understands exactly what they are being accused of.