This summer, the Virginia Supreme Court held the decision that the burden of proof for Virginia Consumer Protection Act claims is “preponderance of the evidence.” This standard of proof is lower and more favorable to injured consumers than the previous standard of “clear and convincing.”
Learn more about this important decision and read the full court opinion from Ballagh v. Fauber Enterprises, Inc. here.
This Standard is Favorable for Consumers Filing Claims under the Consumer Protection Act
What this means for injured plaintiffs is that there is now uniformity amongst courts in Virginia on what the standard of proof should be for a VCPA claim and plaintiffs need only prove their cases by having at least 51% of the evidence in their favor.
There are three primary burden of proofs used in the Virginia court system that a plaintiff must sufficiently meet in order to win her case. The fact-finder in the case, either the judge or a jury, makes the ultimate decision of whether or not the burden has been satisfied by the evidence provided. The lower the burden, the less evidence and convincing needed to be successful.
The highest burden is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This high standard is reserved for criminal cases where we would want the judge or jury making the ultimate decision to be 99.9% sure the defendant is guilty. The medium level burden of “clear and convincing” is a lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt but still higher than preponderance of the evidence. In order to prove something by clear and convincing standard the evidence must prove that it is “substantially more likely than not” that it is true. There isn’t an exact percentage you have to win by under this standard but a rule of thumb would be approximately 80%. Lastly, the lowest burden is “preponderance of the evidence.” This standard is met when plaintiff has more than 50% of the evidence in her favor. For example, in cases that only involve witness testimony that amounts to “he said, she said” evidence, plaintiff would need to provide at least one piece of evidence to act as tie-breaker.
Knowing just how much evidence is needed to satisfy a burden of proof is not an exact science. Therefore, it all depends on the nature of your case and what type of evidence is provided. You should be sure to contact an attorney to discuss the details of your case in order to better gauge your chances at success.