Functional Equivalent of Privity is Required in Negligent Misrepresentation Cases that Produce Only Economic Injury

Ossining Union Free Sch. Dist. v. Anderson LaRocca Anderson, 73 N.Y.2d 417 (1989)

In Ossining, the Court of Appeals expanded on the holding in Credit Alliance and ruled that a school district, which contracted with an architect, could sue engineers hired by the architect for damages suffered as a result of the engineers’ negligence and malpractice.  The issue addressed by the court was whether privity of contract is required in a negligent misrepresentation case that produces only economic injury.  The court held that a cause of action for negligent misrepresentation which produces only economic injury requires that the underlying relationship between the parties be one of contract or the bond between them so close as to be the “functional equivalent of contractual privity.”  The court laid out a three-prong test following the guidance of Credit Alliance:  (i) that the design professional be aware that its reports are to be used for a particular purpose; (ii) that a known person rely on the reports in furtherance of that purpose; and (iii) that there be some conduct by the design professional linking it to the reliant person and evidencing its understanding of the reliance.

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