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Renowned Auction House Wins Summary Judgment in Fraud Suit

Case Study

Renowned Auction House Wins Summary Judgment in Fraud Suit

Attorneys from Goldberg Segalla’s Philadelphia office recently secured the dismissal of fraud claims against a well-known international auction house. Jonathan S. Ziss, Seth L. Laver, and Michael P. Luongo led the team in this victory, which showcases the capabilities of the firm’s Professional Liability Practice Group, protects our client’s business and reputation, and sets a favorable precedent for cases involving similar issues.

The plaintiff in the case purchased what he believed to be an autographed 1950s Willie Mays New York Giants jersey and travel bag from the auction house in 1999. In 2012, the buyer sent the items to an authentication company. After examining the items and comparing them to film records, the company determined that the paraphernalia was inauthentic.

The buyer then sued the auction house, alleging that by selling the items — which had been inaccurately authenticated by a separate third party — the auction house committed negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and fraud, and that it violated state laws that govern business practices.

In 2015, a Pennsylvania federal judge granted our team’s motion to dismiss the negligent misrepresentation claim under the economic loss doctrine, which states that a purchaser of a defective product cannot bring a successful negligence action against the seller for economic losses. The judge also held that the statute of limitations had expired on three of the other four claims.

Although the judge did not initially dismiss the allegations of fraud, she issued a ruling in July 2016, agreeing with our team’s argument that our client was not liable for fraud because it did not know that the items were inauthentic and did not intend to be deceptive.