Brief Fact Summary. Defendant told Plaintiff misleading statements during the sale of a vacuum cleaner. Plaintiff sued Defendant for deceit.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Statements of opinion made to a manufacturer are not actionable. False statements of fact are actionable.
Such statements, like the claims of campaign managers before election, are rather designed to allay the suspicion which would attend their absence than to be understood as having any relation to objective truth.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Can general “puffing” or “dealer’s talk” be the basis of an action for deceit?
Held. Yes. Judgment for Plaintiff.
* There are some kinds of talk, which no sensible man takes seriously, and if he does he suffers from his credulity. General statements as to what the cleaner would do, even though consciously false, were not of a kind to be taken literally by the buyer. As between manufacturer and customer, it may not be so; but this was the case of taking over a business, after ample chance to investigate.
* The rule does not apply to the representations that the vacuum had never been put upon the market or offered for sale. Such a representation could have been the material to Plaintiff’s decision to purchase.
* The retraction of the false statement that the vacuum had never been sold before would be a defense if it were communicated to Plaintiff before the contract was executed.
Dissent. The dissent argued that Plaintiff should have presumed to know what the contract means and says. Thus Plaintiff should have been barred from suit.
Discussion. Puffing is defined as the expression of an exaggerated opinion – as opposed to a factual representation – with the intent to sell a good or service. Puffing involves expressing opinions, not asserting something as a fact.