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Vulcan Metals Co. v. Simmons Mfg. Co.

Citation. 248 Fed. 853
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Citation248 Fed. 853
248 Fed. 853

Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff bought machinery from defendant in reliance on representations that defendant made in the sale. Plaintiff later sued defendant for misrepresentations made in the sale of the machinery.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

General “puffing” or “dealers’ talk” cannot be the basis of an action for deceit if the buyer and seller stand “on equality” by possessing equal bargaining power.

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

An opinion is a fact, and it may be a very relevant fact; the expression of an opinion is the assertion of a belief, and any rule which condones the expression of a consciously false opinion condones a consciously false statement of fact.

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Facts.

Vulcan Metals Company (“Vulcan”) (plaintiff) purchased machinery for the manufacture of vacuum cleaners from Simmons Manufacturing Company (“Simmons”)  (defendant). In the sale, Simmons made various representations about the quality of the equipment. Representations included assertions that the machine worked with “the greatest efficiency,” that it “was so simple that a child of six could use it,” and “it was simple, long-lived, easily operated, and effective.” Vulcan later alleged the statements made were misrepresentations and brought suit against Simmons.

Issue.

Whether general “puffing” or “dealers’ talk” can be the basis of an action for deceit?

Held.

No, because Vulcan stood “on equality” with Simmons. A new trial is ordered.

Discussion.

General “puffing” or “dealers’ talk” cannot be the basis of an action for deceit if the buyer and seller stand “on equality” by possessing equal bargaining power. Here, Vulcan had the opportunity to examine the machinery and to test it out. Vulcan undertook his own independent and adequate inquiry before the purchase. Therefore, Vulcan had no right to treat Simmons’ statements as material in his determination.


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