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Saxby v. Southern Land Co

    Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant after he bought a farm, based on defendant’s representations that the farm had more timberland than it actually did.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. When a representation is actually an opinion, a plaintiff cannot claim to rely on it in seeking damages, if plaintiff later learns that defendant’s estimate was not exact.

    Facts. Plaintiff contracted to purchase the Winslow farm, under the representation that the far contained at least 150 acres of pine timber, of which 20 acres had been burned. After acquiring the farm, Plaintiff learned there were about 120 acres in timber, of which 60 acres had been burned over. Plaintiff brought suit for fraudulent representations, which was dismissed. Plaintiff appealed.

    Issue. This case considers whether a statement of opinion will hold a defendant liable when a plaintiff relies on it in acquiring land.

    Held. Affirmed.
    * The court, considering the facts of the agreement between Plaintiff and Defendant, found that no fraudulent misrepresentations were made. Defendant opined as to the acreage of timber and burned land, as well as to soil quality. These statements were opinion, and the court found it unfair to hold defendant to the exact value of the land, when the future quality of the land could not be determined at the time of the sale.

    Discussion. Statements of opinion are not fraudulent representations in the sense that a plaintiff can recover if an opinion does not meet expectations.


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