This is an example of a a real sample opening statement of an auto fraud
trial in New Jersey
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Initially, I would like to thank you all in advance. We have a very busy lives we have children; we have significant others with things we must do every day including our jobs. My job is to be here in the courtroom and represent my client. This is not your job ordinarily. However, starting today and until we finish this trial this is your job. I know it is a terribly inconvenient. However, every person who I have spoken to after they served on a jury either criminal or civil has told me, undoubtedly, they were very happy to do and they really liked it and it was rewarding
The civil justice system, jury trials, is very important. This is a civil, peaceful way to resolve disputes between parties. We do not go to a boxing ring and winner takes all. We do not go to the thunder dome, get weapons fight it out to the death. This is the civil justice system. There were rules and procedures for obtaining civil justice. The key word is civil
We want to thank you for your time and sacrifice. I would, my client would, the defendant would and certainly the judge.
This is my clients and the defendant's only opportunity for resolution of the dispute. You will be here for a few days however my client has been waiting years to get to court. I cannot express how important it is what you were doing and the significance of the jury. It is imperative that the judge, I and the other lawyer do our jobs to make your job easier that is what I promised to you.
This is my opening statement. This is a snapshot or an outline of the case which I am going to present to you for my client. What I say is not evidence. What the other attorneys says is not evidence. It is an outline or argument. At the end of the case the judge will instruct you about evidence with you should consider them when you should not consider. Until then I will present witnesses, documents, photographs, and other evidence to use to assist you in your decision at the end of the case. Again, this is a snapshot only. This is what my client and I intend to present to you the render a proper verdict which should be one for my client.
It is my job and my obligation to prove to you by a preponderance of the credible evidence that my client is entitled to a verdict.
What is that? This means that it is more likely than not if there were scale and the scales started off even, I would have to tilt them slightly in my client's favor. I would say 51% would be the burden to produce evidence and convince you that the plaintiff, my client, is entitled to a verdict. This is what I mean by a preponderance of the credible evidence. The judge at the end of the case will explain to you what the law is. But you are the finders of fact and you will determine what the facts are and apply them to the law as the judge tells the law to you at the end of the case.
My client on January 1, 2010 purchased used vehicle from of the defendant, a used car dealership. This was an extremely important purchase for my client as he has a wife and two children, and he needed the car to get to work. He needed a reliable, safe way, to go to work, to take his kids to soccer practice and take his family to the doctor. He went to visit this used car dealership to buy a to meet his simple needs. He was at the dealership for a long period of time and was speaking to the car salesman. They had extensive discussions about the safety of the car, the performance of the car. My client wanted to assure that the car he was purchasing had not been any prior accidents, had NO prior damage, had no recalls and was safe. This is not a stretch as I am certain that most of you at one point would have had to purchase a car and had like needs.
My client relied upon the express representations from the salesman to proceed forward in the transaction and by the court. He also received a Carfax. (As an aside, many dealership attorneys argue that it is not their problem that the Carfax
was wrong or is not accurate. My position always has been that if you are going to get something in writing to the customer that need to be accurate. If it is wrong is the problem of the business and not the customer. Carfax can be helpful under certain circumstances and in other circumstances quite the opposite)
I know many of you have might have heard about Carfax what it is and what is not. My client will tell you what was told by the salesman. While the Carfax is not invented or created by the dealership the dealership relies upon Carfax and the salesman presented as the plaintiff so he can rely upon it has the accuracy of its contents backing up the verbal statements from the salesperson this should not be a big surprise.
The dealer’s salesperson provided my client with the opportunity to have the vehicle inspected. This is not disputed. However, my client relying upon entrusting the representations from the salesman did not think there was any need for how the extra money for the cost to pay somebody to inspect the car. Why would be? Dealers in the business of buying and selling automobiles and my client felt comfortable trusting salesman and a car dealer as they are experts in the field. Again, nothing in the ground shattering nothing crazy and nothing more than commonsense. My client did not have the vehicle inspected by an expert however he did test drive the vehicle and he did look at the car very carefully as he was about to vest almost $30,000.
This is important and I would request to pay very close attention to this testimony when you hear it. My client noticed a defect in the paint. He specifically asked the salesman if this was an issue in any way and if vehicle been previously painted and if the car had been damaged. The salesman specifically told my client, who was about to invest $30,000 with the salesman, that was nothing wrong with the car and his dealership would never saw a car that was damaged by significant defects. It is further confirmed that my clients believe the trust and salesman in the dealership and convince them to buy the car.
The plaintiff, my client agreed to by the car relying upon the express statements of the salesman the representations as to the condition of the vehicle, the presentation of the Carfax assuming that the car was in excellent condition, had no mechanical problems and did not been in a prior automobile accident. My client did want a part of any issues as he had really needed a dependable car
My client drove the car and about two or three weeks and went to a car wash. He was at the car wash and one of the people driving the car asked when the car was in an accident. He said what you are talking about. The person said that he could tell the vehicle had been previously painted almost the entire vehicle. My client was very upset and took the vehicle to his neighbor was a mechanic. The mechanic looked at the car and said absolutely the vehicle been in a serious prior accident, been repainted and the vehicle was worth significantly less than the 30,000 to be paid to the selling dealership.
My client was extremely upset called the dealership and made an appointment to return. He returned to the dealership and showed them the discolored paint and the other defects indicative of the prior accident. The dealer looks at it and denied it said it was a used car and what did he expect? The dealer said it was a used car not a new car and many used cars had been a prior accident. My client asked them to put the vehicle up on a lift to look he refused. He demanded that they repurchase the vehicle may refuse.
He was left with no other option but to file a consumer fraud
lawsuit. This is why we are here, we are here because the used car dealer which is sitting at the table next to me took advantage of my client. We are here because the used car dealer sitting at the table next to me chose to take advantage of the plaintiff and make money in a way which is not honest and forthright. There is no way that the used car dealer did not know the car was in an accident. We will hear testimony from an expert, the defendant, and my client. All pretty much agreed at this point that the car was in a prior accident. However, the dealer chose to stick their head in the sand and deny the obvious facts. There is no doubt this car was in an accident. There is no doubt that the level of prior damage and the nature of the damage would have notified the selling dealer that the car was in a prior accident. They knew as they are experts in the field and are charged with this type of knowledge.
Even if they did not know, the law in New Jersey is that the buyer of a vehicle can rely upon the representations from the seller. The judge will tell you at the end of the case that if the statement is made and it is false there is responsibility.
The Consumer Fraud Act a
llows my client to recover damages. The Judge will tell you that the plaintiff is entitled to recover any ascertainable losses. The judge will also tell you at the end of the case, that the ascertainable loss will be tripled but that you have no part in your consideration as to liability. The judge will also tell you at the end of the case that a successful claimant, claimant improves an ascertainable loss is entitled to recover attorney’s fees. The judge will take care of this himself at the end of the trial when/if the verdict is awarded for the plaintiff.
The evidence will demonstrate that the plaintiff has been damaged. The plaintiff has been damaged because he bought the car that he did not bargained for in the condition as he received the car. The dealership
affirmatively represented, promised the plaintiff that he would get the car which was accident free. He also made certain promises as to the condition of the vehicle which were actually false. When a car dealership promises something, it must deliver with the promises. In the car dealership represent something to be true condition the vehicle is their job to make sure that the vehicle was in the condition as promised. This is called an affirmative representation of fact. This creates underlying liability under the Consumer Fraud
Act auto dealerships that engaged in auto fraud. When I mean auto fraud, I mean they lied and/or misstated the condition of the vehicle such as modified in this case that the dealer lied about the condition of vehicle and stated that the car was not been an accident when it was involved in a prior accident. Had a minor accident and major accident. This false statement caused damages. This the underlying concept of the Consumer
Fraud Act toward successful plaintiffs’ ascertainable loss. It is your job as the jury sitting in this case and deliberating this case to determine what losses have been sustained by the plaintiff.
My client, an auto fraud
victim, has been damaged. He paid $30,000 for car that was worth maybe $15,000. This difference in value is called an ascertainable loss. This ascertainable loss is the fault of the defendant. The defendant took advantage of plaintiff, and the car was in the prior damage and the dealer and the salesman lied to the plaintiff and sold in the vehicle. The consequences are the ascertainable loss sustained by the plaintiff. The judge will tell you at the end of the case that an ascertainable loss is measurable even if repairs have not been done. There is no requirement that the plaintiff repaired the vehicle to present the case to you and have you awarded damages. The loss is measurable so long as they can be presented to you in a cogent fashion.
I would like to thank you in advance for listening to the facts and completing your civic duty. I do not anticipate that the case will take a long time however if it does, I apologize in advance, but we all are trying to keep the case of minimum both myself, the Judge, and the other attorney. However, there are many rules of evidence required breaks, objections and other procedural occurrences that slowed things down on occasion. These breaks, objections and interruptions are part of the system and make sure that both the plaintiff and the defendant are getting a fair trial. This is the plaintiff’s and the defendant only chance for justice. This is their only trial. What you will see implemented by the judge with the brakes and the objections is to make sure that everybody gets a fair trial, unfortunately sometimes this is slow. However, we are trying to speed this along to make it as tolerable as possible.
I submit that after the evidence presented by the plaintiff and defendant and the judge tells you what the law is you will come to the proper conclusion is that the auto dealership has committed automobile dealership fraud, consumer fraud and the plaintiff is entitled to a verdict. The plaintiff will be entitled to triple damages and attorney’s fees awarded by the court.