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Vulcan Metals Co. v. Simmons Mfg. Co

Brief Fact Summary. Simmons Mfg. Co. (Plaintiff) brought suit against Vulcan Metals Co. (Defendant) after it relied on Defendant’s representations as to the quality of machinery purchased, as well as representations that the machinery had not been put on the market for sale.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. While a plaintiff cannot bring an action for misrepresentation based on an opinion, the line becomes blurred when representations as to the status of the product are also made.

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

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.

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Facts. Defendant marketed machinery to be used for the manufacture of vacuum cleaners. When dealing with Plaintiff, Defendant made representations of the quality of the machinery, as well as the fact that the cleaners had never been put on the market or offered for sale. After the cleaners proved not to be what Plaintiff had bargained for, they brought suit based on misrepresentations. The trial court directed verdict for Plaintiff and Defendant appealed.

Issue. Whether a plaintiff can recover, in misrepresentation, for statements beyond the quality of a product?

Held. New trial ordered.
* In considering the facts of this case, the court held that Plaintiff could not prevail against Defendant, in misrepresentation, for the claims it made about the quality of the cleaners, but Plaintiff may be able to prevail in its claims against Defendant for its representations that the product had not been put on the market. Those claims were not opinion, but fact, and could be considered misrepresentations.

Discussion. When considering misrepresentation, it is important to distinguish between statements of opinion and fact, in determining whether a defendant can be held liable.

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