Legal Question in Business Law in California

I am a sales person. I had been instructed by my manager (by email) to inform my clients regarding a certain company (our competitor) who claims their product is assembled locally, is in fact fully imported. This is to disqualify that product to be given priority due to the claim (that it is assembled locally).

I had send out emails to my clients quoting my manager's email by mentioning a certain officer in the ministry has confirmed with the competitor company that the product is not locally assembled.

I am not certain whether the statement is true or not. Should the statement is not true, will I face any charges from the officer in the ministry or the competitor company? Or the charges will be pressed against my company only? What kind of charges will be pressed? Does 'respondeat superior' in effect?

I am merely an employee and not having any ownership in the company and my company is a small corparation.

Asked on 6/04/13, 12:12 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Your question doesn't make a lot of sense. You refer to a "ministry", but we don't have ministries in this country. That makes me think your question may be about another country's laws.

You also refer to "charges" possibly being pressed against you. In American law, it is very rarely a crime to make false statements to a third party, even knowingly, unless you do so in a formal setting under penalty of perjury.

Such statements can, however, be the basis for a civil lawsuit. There are several different theories under which your company's competitor might bring that suit. Some of those theories might be available even if what you said was true. The nature and extent of your exposure would depend upon how any such lawsuit is framed. They would most likely sue your employer rather than you personally.

If they do sue you personally then yes, respondeat superior would most likely apply. You should understand, though, that respondeat superior would merely make your employer liable for your actions. It would not relieve you of responsibility for them or prevent the competitor from suing you successfully. If your company refuses to pay or goes bankrupt, you would potentially still be on the hook for any damages award. You might also end up having to pay for your own lawyer. You would then have the right to seek reimbursement from the company.

Another point: You seem to think that the law will treat your competitor's products differently if they are imported. I don't know why you think that. American law generally doesn't work that way, though there are exceptions. Here again, I wonder if the laws you are concerned about are from another country.

You may want to sit down with a lawyer for a consultation. Once you have explained more about your case, the lawyer can give you better guidance.

Good luck.

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Answered on 6/04/13, 11:48 am

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