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When the parties are so situated that the buyer may reasonably rely upon the expression of the seller's opinion, it is no excuse to give a false one. And so it makes much difference whether the parties stand on an equality.
A lawsuit resulted from a contract between Vulcan Metals to purchase and Simmons Mfg. to sell vacuum cleaners. The district court denied Vulcan Metals’ claim regarding Simmons’ alleged misrepresentations, granted judgment on the notes, and dismissed a counterclaim that was based on Simmons’ misrepresentations.
Did the trial court err in dismissing the claims regarding Simmons’ alleged misrepresentations?
In the case at bar, since the buyer Vulcan Metals was allowed full opportunity to examine the cleaner and to test it out, the parties are put upon an equality. It seemed that 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. Such a buyer, who the seller rightly expects will undertake an independent and adequate inquiry into the actual merits of what he gets, has no right to treat as material in his determination statements like these.The standard of honesty permitted by the rule may not be the best; but, as Holmes, J., says in Deming v. Darling, 148 Mass. 504, 20 N.E. 107, 2 L.R.A. 743, the chance that the higgling preparatory to a bargain may be afterwards translated into assurances of quality may perhaps be a set-off to the actual wrong allowed by the rule as it stands.