Sec. 288. Assertion Of Value, Though False, Not Ordinarily Fraudulent

"Assertions must be considered," says the court in Conlan v. Roemer, 52 N. J. L. 55 (1889), "in the light of the subject-matter in respect to which they are made. The general doctrine is that a misrepresentation unconnected with any misrepresentation of kind, quality or quantity, by the vendor, though false, affords no cause of action. Every person reposes at his peril in the opinion of others when he has equal opportunity to form his own judgment. Mere expressions of matters of opinion, however strongly or positively made, though they are false, do not constitute actionable fraud. Statements of mere matters of opinion or judgment, although known to be false, do not constitute a fraud in the absence of relations of trust and confidence.23 It is not fraud to aver strongly that the purchaser will make a good and profitable purchase by accepting the vendor's offer. It may be otherwise if in connection with the expression of opinion there were false assertions of fact calculated, if true, to give a basis for the opinion." 24

21 Cf. Brown v. Honiss. 74 N. J. L. 508 (1906).

22 Page v. Parker. 43 N. H. 368 (1861); Hetland v. Bilstad, 118 N. W. 423 (Iowa 1908) ; State Bank v. Brown, 119 N. W. 83 (Iowa 1909); Bosley v. Monahan, 112 N. W. 1102 (Iowa 1907) ; Mayo v. Wahlgreen, 50 Pac. 43 (Colo. 1897); Hecht v. Metzler, 48 Pac. 40 (Utah 1897) ; note in Denning v. Darling, 2 L. B. A. 743 (Mass. 1889).

■ Citing Wise v. Puller, 2 Stew. Eq. 257.

"The rule is well settled that a naked assertion by a vendor of the value of property offered for sale, even although untrue of itself, and known to be such by him, unless there is a want of knowledge by the vendee, and the sale is made in entire reliance upon the representations made, or unless some artifice is employed to prevent inquiry or the obtaining of knowledge by the vendee, will not render the vendor responsible to the vendee for damages sustained by him." 25

Sec. 289. Opinions Amounting To Affirmations Of Fact

But opinions may sometimes amount to representations of fact. In People v. Peckens, 153 N. Y. 591 (1897), it was said: "Asa general rule, the mere expression of an opinion, which is understood to be only an opinion, does not render a person expressing it liable for fraud."26 "But," continues the court, "where the statements are as to value or quality, and are made by a person knowing them to be untrue, with an intent to deceive and mislead the one to whom they are made, and he is thus induced to forbear making inquiries which he otherwise would, they may amount to an affirmation of fact rendering him liable therefor. In such a case, whether a representation is an expression of opinion or an affirmation of a fact is a question for the jury. The rule that no one is liable for an expression of an opinion is applicable only when the opinion stands by itself as a distinct thing. If it is given in bad faith, with knowledge of its untruthfulness to defraud others, the person making it is liable, especially when it is as to a fact affecting quality or value and is peculiarly within the knowledge of the person making it." 27.

24 Citing McAleer v. Horsey, 35 Md. 439.

25 Chrysler v. Canaday, 90 N. Y. 279 (1882); Sels v. Plalsantln, 52 App. Div. 206 (N. Y. 1900).

26 See also Press v. Hair, 133 111. App. 534 (1907), (citing Buschman v. Codd, 52 Md. 202; Robertson v. Parks, 76 Md. 118; Wade v. Rlngo, 122 Mo. 322). See also note to Denning v. Darling, 2 L. R. A. 743 (Mass. 1889).