Ninth Circuit Rules Complaint Must Specifically Allege Conduct Amounting To Fraud

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In Kearns v. Ford Motor Company, --- F.3d ----, 2009 WL 1578535 (9thCir. June 8, 2009), plaintiff William Kearn sued Ford for alleged violations of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”) and California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) arising out of Ford’s Certified Pre-Owned (“CPO”) vehicle program. Kearn’s complaint generically alleged that Ford had made false and misleading statements concerning the safety and reliability of its CPO vehicles (without identifying who made the statements, the specific content of the statements, or when and how Kearn was exposed to such statements), and failed to disclose to consumers Ford’s lack of actual oversight in determining whether used vehicles qualify for the CPO program. Kearn alleged that he was harmed by the foregoing conduct because he had paid a higher price for a CPO vehicle then he would have paid for a non-CPO vehicle, even though there was no difference between the two. While Kearn alleged that Ford’s conduct constitutes an unfair business practice under California law, he did not assert any claims for fraud in the complaint.

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