Firm Appeals Stone v. Kahr to the NJ Supreme Court

We have recently taken over a case, Stone v. Kahr.   It purports to be a Consumer Fraud case and we practice consumer law, so that would seem logical.  However, we are representing the defendant, accused of committing Consumer Fraud.  As we understand the law, Consumer Fraud only applies to ‘consumers’ as one would commonly conceive of them – those who obtain the product for their own use.  Here , the plaintiff was a real estate speculator.  The defendant performed renovations on the home so the speculator could re-sell it.  We have asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, contending that the meaning of “consumer” does not include someone who buys a product or service for purposes of re-selling it.  The Court has never addressed this issue and there is a very good chance they will agree to hear this case.  (Unlike appeals to the appellate division, the Supreme Court generally has the discretion to decline cases.)

The second issue in the case is a disappointing reflection on the profession.  The decision against the Defendant relies upon the application of a part of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act that took effect on December 31, 2005.  Our client did the work in 2003 and 2004, prior to the law taking effect.  Neither the trial nor appellate attorneys ever pointed this out (we got involved after the appeal, first seeking to have the appellate division reconsider its ruling and then to appeal to the Supreme Court).  Normally, you cannot bring up an issue for the first time on appeal; however, there is a little known judicial safety valve called the “plain error doctrine”.  We have asked the Court to consider whether it is “plain error” to apply a law that did not exist when the work was performed.

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