Sunday, August 21, 2016
RICHARD CATENA VS. RAYTHEON COMPANY, ET AL. A-4636-13T4
RICHARD CATENA VS. RAYTHEON COMPANY, ET AL.
In this appeal, we apply the discovery rule to fraud claims under common law and the Consumer Fraud Act arising from the sale of commercial real property. The seller and his lender, both defendants, knew about environmental contamination on the property, which they partly remediated before the closing. Rather than disclose that information, the seller provided plaintiff an affidavit stating that he was unaware of any contamination on the site. In reversing the summary judgment dismissal on statute of limitations grounds, we hold that discovery did not occur until plaintiff was aware of facts indicating defendant knew his statements were false, and intended plaintiff to rely upon their falsity. We base this on the rule that a plaintiff cannot discover the basis for a fraud claim until he is aware of facts establishing the essential elements of the claim, one of which is mens rea.