Case Caption: Carole Chestnut v. Elsa GoodmanCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2011-0082Date: 08/08/2013Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: Summary:

A plaintiff's judgment for the tort of negligent misrepresentation in connection with transfer of an interest in a property in exchange for a promise to care for the plaintiff in her advancing age is reversed. The Superior Court correctly determined that there were genuine issues of material fact concerning the element of donative intent for the jury to determine, and thus correctly denied summary judgment on that issue and set the case for trial. To support her claim of negligent misrepresentation, plaintiff was required to introduce sufficient evidence for a reasonable trier of fact to find that defendant supplied false information in the course of her business, or in a transaction in which the defendant had a pecuniary interest, that plaintiff suffered pecuniary loss as a result of justifiable reliance on that information, and that defendant failed to exercise reasonable care or competence in obtaining or communicating the information. In this case the representations relied upon by the plaintiff were promises based on the defendant's then-present intent to perform a future action. Defendant could not negligently misrepresent her present intent to perform an action in the future-she either made the promise intending to follow through with it, or she made the promise knowing then that she did not intend to follow through with it - but she could not have negligently misrepresented her present intent to follow through on a promise. The tort of negligent misrepresentation only applies to cases of misrepresentation of factual, commercial information, not to statements of future intent. Negligent misrepresentation also must involve false information for the guidance of others in their business transactions, and there was nothing to indicate that defendant's representation that she was married was made in a business context. Since the defendant's promise to care for plaintiff in the future cannot give rise to a claim of negligent misrepresentation-nor can defendant's statements regarding her marital status-the judgment is reversed and the case is remanded to the Superior Court with the direction to grant the defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion