Any company transacting business in Virginia for any length of time knows that disputes often involve allegations of fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation. A common litigation tactic by unscrupulous plaintiffs' attorneys is to add a claim for fraud to an ordinary breach-of-contract case, in the hopes of enabling the recovery of punitive damages and attorneys' fees. When a party alleges the existence of fraud in a commercial litigation matter, it can have far-reaching implications for all involved. Whether our client has been defrauded and damaged by another or improperly accused of fraud, our skilled business fraud litigation lawyers handle each case with the same goal: to protect the rights and interests of our clients. We routinely get unsubstantiated fraud claims thrown out of court during a proceeding's earliest stages.
We explain the basics of Virginia fraud law on our Litigation Blog. In short, a successful fraud claim requires proof of (1) a false representation, (2) of a present, material fact, (3) made intentionally and knowingly, (4) with intent to mislead, (5) reasonable reliance by the party misled, and (6) resulting damage. Intentional concealment of a material fact can sometimes give rise to a "fraud by omission" claim, but mere silence will not constitute fraud where there is no legal duty to disclose the information. Corporations, for example, are presumed to have knowledge of their own records, so there is generally no duty to speak out to alert a corporation to information found in its own documents. It's also important to note that a heightened pleading standard applies to fraud claims. To survive dismissal, a complaint alleging fraud must identify specific details such as the time, place, and contents of the misrepresentations, as well as the identity of the person making the misrepresentation and what he obtained thereby.
Our experienced litigators and trial lawyers understand that no two cases are exactly alike. We approach expert witnesses, investigators, and the court with the mindset that every case requires meticulous preparation and a creative strategy in order to obtain optimal results.
If you or your business has been the victim of fraud or deceptive trade practices, call or click on "Contact Us" to arrange a consultation with business-fraud attorney and firm owner Lee Berlik for a professional evaluation of your case.