Fraud Must Be Pleaded With Specificity

Epstein v. Epstein, 2017 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1165, No. A-1558-15T3

(N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. May 15, 2017).

This case is an unpublished Appellate Division decision arising out of Ocean County, New Jersey.

Plaintiff Neal Epstein (“Neal”) appealed the trial court’s order dismissing his Complaint against Barbara Epstein (“Barbara”).  Neal’s Complaint alleged that as a result of Barbara’s fraud and misrepresentations, the decedent, Harry Epstein, removed him as a named beneficiary under his living trust and will.

Barbara filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Rule 4:6-2(e) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.  The trial court dismissed the Complaint and found the Complaint failed to identify the dates upon which the alleged fraudulent conduct occurred.  Accordingly, such lack of information prevented the Court from determining whether the claim was barred by the applicable six-year statute of limitations set forth under N.J.S.A. §2A:14-1.  Moreover, the Court found that the Complaint failed to provide specificity when pleading fraud, per Rule 4:5-8(a).

Neal then filed a motion for leave to appeal, rather than an amended Complaint.  On appeal, Neal argued that his Complaint was sufficient and any excluded reference to dates were due to the dates being unknown.

The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s dismissal.  The appellate court noted that Neal made no attempt to even approximate when the conduct occurred during the decedent’s life.  Absent some designation as to when the fraud occurred, dismissal without prejudice was appropriate.