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Williams v. Rank & Son Buick, Inc

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Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff brought suit against Rank & Son Buick, Inc. (Defendant), for misrepresentation, when Plaintiff bought a car, purported to have air-conditioning, but did not.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A plaintiff’s reliance will be considered when determining whether he sustained damages from a misrepresentation.

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

The elements of a claim for intentional misrepresentation are: (1) a false representation of fact; (2) made with intent to defraud and for the purpose of inducing another to act upon it; and (3) upon which another did in fact rely and was induced to act, resulting in injury or damage.

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Facts. Plaintiff bought a car from Defendant, and the salesperson told him the car was air-conditioned. Several days after he bought the car, Plaintiff realized the knobs that were marked “air” were for ventilation, not air-conditioning. Plaintiff brought suit for fraudulent misrepresentation and received a judgment for $150.00 in damages. Defendant appealed.

Issue. This case considers the issue of reliance in oral misrepresentation.

Held. Reversed.
* The court reversed the judgment of the lower court, maintaining while the oral misrepresentation was made, Plaintiff failed to mitigate his damages, by not examining the car himself, to determine the presence of air condition. In such a case, the Plaintiff could not claim reliance on the misrepresentation, especially when a reasonable man would have inspected the vehicle before purchase.

Dissent. Justice Wilkie dissented, holding that the fraudulent misrepresentation, in itself, gave the Plaintiff a cause, regardless of reliance.

Discussion. While, in misrepresentation cases, a plaintiff who is fraudulently induced may recover damages, the court will also consider the role of the plaintiff’s reliance, in comparison to the reliance made by a reasonable man.

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