Specific Details are Required for Allegations of Fraud Under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has affirmed the dismissal of a fraud case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Patrick Camasta filed a lawsuit against Joseph A. Bank Clothiers Inc. claiming that prior to making purchases at the company’s far north suburban store in Deer Park, Ill., that he saw an advertisement about “sale prices” for certain items.

Camasta’s complaint did not specify when or where he saw the advertisement, what exactly the advertisement said, what the “sale prices” were or what particular merchandise was eligible for the sale.

At the Deer Park Joseph A. Bank store, Camasta found that there was a promotion in which customers were able to buy one shirt and get two for free. Camasta purchased six shirts for $167. After his purchases, Camasta alleged that he learned that Bank’s practice was to advertise normal retail prices as normal price reductions. Camasta alleged but for this fraudulent retail tactic, he would not have purchased the six shirts.

Camasta then sued on behalf of the class under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Bank removed the case to the federal district court and filed a motion to dismiss for Camasta’s failure to state a cause of action. The motion was granted. Camasta appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago.

The appellate panel began by noting that since Camasta’s claim was for fraud under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act (ICFA), his complaint must be analyzed under the heightened pleading standard of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Section 9(b).

That procedural rule requires that a complaint state with particularity the circumstances constituting the fraud. Camasta, however, argued that his complaint needed only to meet the less stringent standard of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Section 8(a), which requires only that the complaint set out a claim for relief.

The appeals panel disagreed with that argument. The panel noted that while Camasta added language to his complaint, his allegations were based upon the assertion that Joseph Bank used a fraudulent sales technique. In considering the requirements of Rule 9(b), the panel found that Camasta had failed to meet that standard.

The appeals panel stated that Camasta had not provided details in his pleading regarding the advertisement of the sales price that he had seen or that the retailer offered merchandise under a constant sale.

In addition, the panel found that Camasta had not shown that he had suffered actual damages due to the alleged fraudulent conduct. Camasta had asserted that he could have shopped around and found the same shirts for a lesser price, but the panel noted that Camasta had chosen not to provide any support for that assertion.

In addition and lastly, the court of appeals found that Camasta’s claim for injunctive relief also failed because he could not show that Bank’s conduct would likely cause him harm in the future. The panel stated that Camasta was now fully aware of the retailer’s sales practices and he would not likely be harmed by the same practices at a future time. As a result, the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of Camasta’s lawsuit.

Patrick E. Camasta v. Joseph A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., No. 13-2831 (7th U.S. Court of Appeals, Aug. 1, 2014).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling business litigation, commercial litigation, jury trials and probate litigation for individuals, families and businesses for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Joliet, Waukegan, Rosemont, Richton Park, Alsip, Blue Island, Chicago Heights, Olympia Fields, Bridgeview, Chicago (Andersonville, Canaryville, Bridgeport, Roscoe Village, Beverly), Burr Ridge, Bedford Park and Hillside, Ill.

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