Williams v. Rank & Son Buick, Inc.

44 Wis. 2d 239, 170 N.W.2d 807 (1969)



Whether the falsity of a statement could have been discovered through ordinary care is to be determined in light of the intelligence and experience of the misled individual. Also to be considered is the relationship between the parties.


Two brothers went to a used-car lot where they examined a 1964 Chrysler Imperial automobile. While doing so, they were approached by a salesman who permitted them to take the car for a test run. They drove the car for approximately one and one-half hours before returning the car to the appellant's lot. During that time they tested the car's general handling as well as its radio and power windows. One brother purchased the car. According to the him, however, it was not until several days after he had purchased the car that he discovered that the knobs marked "Air" were for ventilation and that the car was not air-conditioned. A case was filed against the company for misrepresentation since the salesman told the buyer that the car was air-conditioned. Judgment was rendered in favor of the buyer. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.


Was the buyer justified in relying on the misrepresentations?




The court held one could not justifiably rely upon obviously false statements. The buyer had ample opportunity to determine whether the vehicle was air-conditioned. Accordingly, the court reversed the decision and held that whether the representation in question was made, the buyer failed to exercise ordinary care to determine if the vehicle was equipped with air conditioning, and, under all the circumstances he was not justified in relying upon such representation if it was made.

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