Legal Memorandum: Valid Claim for Fraud in CA

Issue: Under the laws of California, what are the requirements for stating a valid claim for fraud?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Valid fraud claim; Requirements
Jurisdiction: California
Cited Cases: 57 Cal. App. 3d 104
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 01/01/2000

        The elements of a fraud claim are "(1) a knowingly false representation by the defendant, (2) an intent to defraud or to induce reliance, (3) justifiable reliance, and (4) resulting damages."  Croeni v. Goldstein (1994) 21 Cal. App. 4th 754, 758; see also Cal. Civ. Code § 1709 (1985).  The facts constituting each of these elements must be alleged with particularity.  See Committee on Children’s Television, Inc. v. General Foods Corp. (1983) 35 Cal. 3d 197.  The Committee on Children’s Television court, however, also noted a well-known commentator’s observation that

actions based on fraud are so numerous and commonplace that the implications of immoral conduct are seldom considered more serious than those involved in other intentional torts.  Hence, while it seems sound to require specific pleading of the facts of fraud rather than general conclusions, the courts should not look askance at the complaint, and seek to absolve the defendant from liability on highly technical requirements of form in pleading.  Pleading facts in ordinary and concise language is as permissible in fraud cases as in any others, and liberal construction of the pleading is as much a duty of the court in these as in other cases.

Id. at 216 n.17 (quoting 3 B.E. Witkin, California Procedure, Pleading § 575 (3d ed. 1971)).

The purpose of requiring particularity in pleading of fraud is simply to allow the defendant to "understand fully the nature of the charge made."  Roberts v. Ball, Hunt, Hart, Brown & Baerwitz (1976)