American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Negligent Misrepresentation

By Judson R. Garrett, Jr.

The ASHA Code of Ethics prohibits "engaging in...a misrepresentation....".1 This general prohibition is not limited to intentional misrepresentations.

A misrepresentation is any statement by words or other conduct that, under the circumstances, amounts to an assertion that is false or erroneous, i.e., not in accordance with the facts.2 A misrepresentation, therefore, may be intentional or negligent, i.e., a "fraudulent misrepresentation" or a negligent misrepresentation."

Unlike a fraudulent misrepresentation, which requires that the person making the representation know it is false or incorrect and intend to deceive or mislead, a negligent misrepresentation merely requires that one fail to exercise reasonable care or competence to obtain or communicate information that is true or correct.3

Failure to exercise reasonable care of competence in supplying correct information in the course of one's profession or occupation,4 therefore, constitutes "engaging in a misrepresentation" and violates the ASHA Code of Ethics.

Notes:

  1. Principle of Ethics IV, Rule of Ethics A ("Individuals shall not engage in dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, sexual harassment, or any other form of conduct that adversely reflects on the professions or on the individual's fitness to serve persons professionally.").
  2. Black's Law Dictionary 1001 (6th Ed 1990).
  3. 37 Am Jur. 2d Fraud and Deceit § 128.
  4. Restatement of Torts § 552

Judson R. Garrett, Jr., is an attorney and has served as public member of the Board of Ethics since 1999.

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