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Cherchio v. V&F Construction Co., Inc.

A-1516-97T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)

CONSUMER FRAUD ACT; CONTRACTORS; PERMITS—A contractor that constructs without a required building permit violates the Consumer Fraud Act and is liable for treble damages.

A contractor built a retaining wall without first obtaining municipal permits. Apparently, the homeowner for whom the work was done suffered damages as a result of deficiencies in the work or the lack of a permit. The lower court found, in essence, “that the New Jersey Administrative Code provides that a contractor may not commence work until he is sure that all applicable state or local building construction permits have been issued; that [a contractor] could not legally rely upon [the homeowner] to obtain those permits; that [earlier testimony] revealed a tacit understanding that permits were necessary; and that had [the contractor] submitted the [plans] for review, a building permit would have been required by the [municipality]. .” Based on its holding that a building permit was required, the lower court found that the contractor had violated the Consumer Fraud Act, and imposed trebled damages against the contractor in addition to holding the contractor liable for counsel fees. The Appellate Division affirmed.


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