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Hinkle v. Rockville Motor Co., Inc

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Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Rockville Motor Co., Inc. (Defendant), sold the Plaintiff, Hinkle (Plaintiff) a car, claiming it was “new”. In fact, it had about 2000 miles on it and had been in an accident, where the body was severed. The Plaintiff sued the Defendant for the costs the Plaintiff would incur to fix the car.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. In a case of fraud or deceit, plaintiff need not show the actual value of the misrepresented item at the time of purchase to make a case. It is enough that plaintiff show there was deceit and that plaintiff incurred damages as a result of the deceit.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

In Webster v. Woolford which was an action of deceit, alleged to have been practised by the defendant in respect to his authority to sell certain property, this Court said: the action, it is true, is in the nature of an action for tort, but it is a tort found on a breach of contract, and there being no question as to exemplary damages, the rule as to the measure of damages is the same as in cases for breach of contract in regard to the sale of property.

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Facts. The Plaintiff bought a car from the Defendant. The Defendant told the Plaintiff that the car was new. In fact, there were 2000 miles on the speedometer and the car had been in an accident.
* The Plaintiff noticed the mileage on the speedometer as he was driving the car home. He returned to the Defendant’s place of business. The Defendant agreed to refund the Plaintiff the amount of his first payment in exchange for him signing a release from further claims except for breach of warranty.
* The Plaintiff found out, a few months later, that the car had been in an accident. He sued the Defendant and had an expert witness testify as to the amount of money the repairs would cost.
* The Defendant moved for and received a directed verdict from the trial court on the basis that the Plaintiff has not given any evidence as to the value of the car, as represented by the Defendant.

Issue. Was the trial court correct in granting the directed verdict in favor of the Defendant?

Held. No.
* A review of Maryland case law shows a variety of ways a plaintiff in a case of deceit may establish what his damages are: “(1) If the defrauded party is content with the recovery of only the amount that he actually lost, his damages will be measured under that rule; (2)if the fraudulent representation also amounted to a warranty, recovery may be had for loss of the bargain because a fraud accompanied by a broken promise should cost the wrongdoer as much as the latter alone; (3) where the circumstances disclosed by the proof are so vague as to cast virtually no light upon the value of the property had it conformed to the representations, the court will award damages equal only to the loss sustained.; and (4) where the damages under the benefit-of-the-bargain rule are proved with sufficient certainty, that rule will be employed.””
* In this case, the Plaintiff made a prima fascia case for deceit and showed that he sustained damages in having to repair his car.

Discussion. This case shows that it is only necessary to show that the Defendant committed deceit and that the Plaintiff suffered damages because of it in order to reco

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