In D’Agostino v. Maldonado, 2013 WL 5476857 (Oct. 3, 2013), the New Jersey Supreme Court weighed in on whether the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act ("CFA") could be triggered by a complex real estate deal between a purported “mortgage foreclosure rescue” service and owners of a residential apartment complex (plaintiffs lived in one of the units). The Court also articulated some guidance on the ascertainable loss requirement when the trial court has granted rescission and restitution. In D’Agostino, plaintiffs—owners of a multi-unit residential complex--ran into significant financial trouble. They called the number on a sign stating “I buy houses” and ultimately signed a series of complicated documents with Ricardo Maldonado. The net effect of the transaction, according to the Court, was to transfer title to a property having a value in excess of $400,000 to Maldonado, for just $10. Plaintiffs sued for restitution, rescission, treble damages under the CFA and attorneys’ fees. In her October 3, 2013 decision writing for the Court in D’Agostino, Justice Patterson ruled that even though the transaction in question was a complicated financial and realty transaction that was tailored for plaintiffs’ specific financial situation, it still fell within the scope of the CFA and was in the nature of a service offered to the public at large.
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