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Consumer Fraud Act Sets Lower Standard of Proof Than Common Law
Description Appeals court held that under the Illinois Consumer Fraud statute a plaintiff has a lower standard of proof to meet than is required under common law fraud actions, as preponderance of proof will carry the day.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Consumer Fraud; Standard of Proof
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Cuculich bought a television manufactured by Cengage (sold under the RCA and GE brand names), which was labeled and advertised as "stereo." The electronic circuits in the television were not adequate to produce stereo sound. Cuculich sued Cengage for violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act for knowingly making false statements about the capabilities of its television. The trial judge dismissed the suit. Cuculich appealed.
Decision Reversed. The Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act was intended to afford a broader range of protection than the common law. To prevail, a plaintiff must show 1) a deceptive act or practice; 2) an intent by the defendant that he rely on the deception; and 3) the deception occurred in the course of conduct involving commerce. Cuculich presented a prima facie case of meeting the elements necessary under the statute. That allows a case to go to trial. The trial court incorrectly applied a clear and convincing evidence standard, which would apply in case of common law fraud, rather than the appropriate standard of proof by a preponderance of the evidence, as required by the Act.
Citation Cuculich v. Cengage Consumer Electronics, Inc., 2000 WL 1644351 (App. Ct., Ill., 2000)

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