Under certain circumstances misrepresentations that are not intentional may still be actionable if relied upon and if they caused damages. Missouri courts have recognized a separate and distinct cause of action for negligent misrepresentation where in the course of any transaction in which one has a financial interest, he/she or a business supplies false information for guidance of others in their business transactions, they may be subject to liability if they failed to exercise reasonable care and competence in obtaining or communicating the information.
The specific elements that must be proven in a negligent representation claim include all of the following:
- The defendant supplied information in the course of his or her business or because of some other pecuniary interest;
- Because of the failure of defendant to exercise reasonable care or competence, the information was false;
- The information was intentionally provided by the defendant for the guidance of a limited group of persons in a particular business transaction; and
- In relying on the information, the person or persons to whom the information was provided suffered a pecuniary loss.
Damages recoverable in a negligent misrepresentation claim are those necessary to compensate the plaintiff for the pecuniary loss to him of which the misrepresentation is the legal cause. Punitive damages are not likely recoverable in a negligent misrepresentation claim.