Vulcan Metals Co. v. Simmons Manufacturing Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

248 F. 853 (2d Cir. 1918)

“Puffing” (the offering a favorable but exaggerated opinion of a product) by a manufacturer does not constitute actionable fraud based on a misrepresentation of the quality of a product where the seller and buyer possess relatively equal bargaining power.

Relevant Facts

Simmons Manufacturing Co. (the defendant) sold to Vulcan Metals Co. (the plaintiff) all of its patents, tools, equipment and parts it had on hand for manufacturing vacuum cleaners. During negotiations, the defendant represented to Albert Freeman, a promoter for the plaintiff, that the vacuum machines were superior to others in terms of their cleanliness, affordability, efficiency, and ease of use. Furthermore, the defendant represented that it had not previously tried to sell the vacuum cleaners, that it had not shown the technology to anyone, that no one else knew about it, and that the technology had never been on the market. The plaintiff purchased materials from the defendant based on these recommendations. At the time, the defendant had 15,000 vacuum units on hand. Later, the plaintiff brought suit on the basis that the statements were false, claiming the machines and patents were totally inefficient and unmarketable. At trial, the plaintiff presented evidence that the defendant previously unsuccessfully attempted to sell the machines on several occasions.

The trial court directed a verdict for the defendant, finding that the company’s representations contained no actionable fraud. The plaintiff appealed.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

December 13, 2020

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Procedural History

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Citations

248 F. 853 (2d Cir. 1918)