Field v. Mans

PETITIONER: Field et al.
LOCATION: 10th Judicial Circuit Court - Jefferson

DOCKET NO.: 94-967
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 516 US 59 (1995)
ARGUED: Oct 02, 1995
DECIDED: Nov 28, 1995

Alan Jenkins - on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the Petitioners
Christopher J. Seufert - on behalf of the Petitioners
W. E. Whittington, IV - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Field v. Mans

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 02, 1995 in Field v. Mans

John Paul Stevens:

We'll hear argument in Field v. Mans, Number 94-967.

Mr. Seufert, you may proceed.

Christopher J. Seufert:

Justice Stevens, may it please the Court:

The common law of fraud: Justice Easterbrook in his opinion in the matter of Mayer stated, an intentional deceit concerning a material proposition is fraud whether or not a more alert target would have smelled a rat, as victims of intentional torts need not take special precautions.

Under the common law as laid out in the Restatement of Torts section 545(a), a plaintiff's reliance on an intentional fraud must only be justifiable.

His conduct does not have to conform to that of a reasonable man, because fraud is an intentional tort.

The victim of such is not required to exercise the care of a reasonable man, just that of a reasonable victim.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

At common law, must the reliance be justifiable, however, for fraud?

Christopher J. Seufert:

Yes, Justice O'Connor.

Justifiable does not equate with reasonable, and the common law spells out the difference between the two.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Do you think there is a requirement of justifiability at least?

Christopher J. Seufert:

There has to be a requirement of materiality, because the elements of false pretenses, false representations, or actual fraud, are not laid out in 523(a)(2)(A).

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Do you think there has to be intent and materiality?

Christopher J. Seufert:

There has to be materiality, and the reason--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And intent?

Christopher J. Seufert:


Sandra Day O'Connor:


Christopher J. Seufert:

Because fraud is an intentional crime.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And possibly justifiability.

Christopher J. Seufert:

Correct, and the reason that is so is that a balancing act is done in the common law between the culpability of a defendant versus the culpability of his victim.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Do we know what the difference is between, what are the three categories, false pretenses, false representation, and actual fraud?

Are those three different things, do you think?

Christopher J. Seufert:

They are, Justice... may I explain +/?

similar to a shell game.

If you were to be walking in a common or a park, and there were to be a gentleman there, and he has three cups out.

If we were talking about false representations, the person who is going to be running the shell game would tell you that I have put the nut in the middle cup.

Let's play the game.

You can't win, because he hasn't put the nut in the cup.

The cups are empty.

But he tells you the nut's there, and he has you play.