Brief Fact Summary. Erie R.R. Co. (Plaintiff) bought insurance when it was assured by International Products Co. (Defendant) that its goods were stored at a certain location, and it later learned that the goods had been stored at another location, where they were ultimately destroyed.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A cause of action for negligent statements may be upheld when a plaintiff is harmed by relying on a defendant’s words.
An inquiry made of a stranger is one thing; of a person with whom the inquirer has entered or is about to enter into a contract concerning the goods which are or are to be its subject is another.View Full Point of Law
Issue. This case considers whether liability stems from negligent language.
* While previous law (see Derry v. Peek) held that no cause of action for a mere statement would be maintainable, the court in this case found that the denial of such a cause of action undermines notions of fairness. The court found that the Defendant had a duty to speak with care, when it knew that Plaintiff was acting in reliance of its statement, which from the terms of the agreement was apparent in this case.
Discussion. This case overrules Derry v. Peek, and says that a cause of action for misrepresentation may be upheld when a defendant can be reasonably assured that a plaintiff is acting in reliance of his words.