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Winter v. G.P. Putnam’s Sons

    Brief Fact Summary. After becoming critically ill from eating mushrooms designated as safe in The Encyclopedia of Mushrooms, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Defendant), Plaintiffs brought suit for misrepresentation, alleging that the book contained erroneous and misleading information.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. A publisher will not be held liable for misrepresentation when it publishes a book of another’s work.

    Facts. Plaintiffs bought a copy of The Encyclopedia of Mushrooms to help them collect and eat wild mushrooms. After relying on the descriptions in the books, Plaintiffs ate some mushrooms, which rendered them critically ill, and they both required liver transplants. Plaintiffs brought suit based on misrepresentation against Defendant, as publishers of the book. The district court granted summary judgment, and Plaintiffs appealed.

    Issue. Whether liability for misrepresentation extends to a publisher of a book?

    Held. Affirmed.
    * In affirming the judgment of the district court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a publisher does not have a duty to act as a guarantor for the contents of all books that it publishes.

    Discussion. Summary judgment was proper in this case, because holding defendant liable for the actions of an author would create an implicit guarantorship among all publishers of all books.


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