Songco v. Sellner

G.R. No. L-11513, 4 December 1917

FACTS:

George C. Sellner, was the owner of a farm which was contiguous to a farm owned by the plaintiff Lamberto Songco. Sellner desired to mill his cane at a sugar central. However, one obstacle was that the owners of the central were not sure they could mill his cane and would not promise to take it. Sellner, however, learning that the central was going to mill Songco’s cane, conceived the idea of buying the cane of the latter, expecting to run his own cane in that same time the other should be milled. Accordingly he bought Songco’s cane as it stood in the fields for the agreed sum of P12,000 and executed therefor three promissory notes of P4,000 each. Two of these notes were paid; and the present action was instituted to recover upon the third. A false representation was alleged to have been made by Songco with respect to the quantity of uncut cane standing in the fields at the time Sellner purchased the farm. Songco estimated that the cane would produce 3,000 piculs of sugar and Sellner bought the crop believing it to be correct but it turned out it only produce a gross of 2,017 piculs.

ISSUE:

Whether or not there was false representation made by Songco in order to secure the sale of sugar cane to Sellner.

RULING:

Sellner is bound in the sale and he must pay the price stipulated. The representation in question can only be considered matter of opinion as the cane was still standing in the field, and the quantity of the sugar it would produce could not be known with certainty until it should be harvested and milled. Undoubtedly Songco had better experience and better information on which to form an opinion on this question than Sellner. Nevertheless the latter could judge with his own eyes as to the character of the cane, and it is shown that he measured the fields and ascertained that they contained 96 1/2 hectares.

A misinterpretation upon a mere matter of opinion is not an actionable deceit, nor is it a sufficient ground for avoiding a contract as fraudulent. We are aware that statements may be found in the books to the effect that there is a difference between giving an honest opinion and making a false representation as to what one’s real opinion is. We do not think, however, that this is a case where any such distinction should be drawn.

The law allows considerable latitude to seller’s statements, or dealer’s talk; and experience teaches that it is exceedingly risky to accept it at its face value. The refusal of the seller to warrant his estimate should have admonished the purchaser that that estimate was put forth as a mere opinion; and we will not now hold the seller to a liability equal to that which would have been created by a warranty, if one had been given.

Assertions concerning the property which is the subject of a contract of sale, or in regard to its qualities and characteristics, are the usual and ordinary means used by sellers to obtain a high price and are always understood as affording to buyers no ground for omitting to make inquiries. A man who relies upon such an affirmation made by a person whose interest might so readily prompt him to exaggerate the value of his property does so at his peril, and must take the consequences of his own imprudence.

* Case digest by  Paula Bianca B. Eguia, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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