Vagaries of Particularity: New York CPLR 3016(b)
Few tools are as handy to civil defense counsel as pleading rules imposing a particularity obligation. Absent such rules, participants in unprofitable ventures would find it all too easy to assert fraud against counterparties. In federal practice, the familiar FRCP 9(b) provides a reliable bulwark against the “in terrorem or stigmatizing effect on defendants and their reputations” of loosely pleaded fraud claims. 1 Federal courts emphasize that Rule 9(b) guards against strike suits—actions of dubious merit designed to extract a settlement through plaintiff’s threatened access to the instruments of discovery. 2 For these reasons, the federal bench usually enforces strictly the heightened pleading standard requiring a claimant to specify the “who, what, when, where and how” of an alleged fraud.
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