PETERS, C. J.
This case arises out of the failure of a school board to rehire a nontenured teacher despite representations that she would receive a new employment contract. The plaintiff, Maria D'Ulisse-Cupo, filed a three count complaint against the defendants, the board of directors of Notre Dame High School and the principal of the school, George Schmitz, seeking damages premised on liability for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation. The trial court rendered judgment against her after granting the motion of the defendants to strike all three counts of her complaint for failure to state a cause of action. Upon appeal to the Appellate Court, that court found error and remanded the case for further trial court proceedings on all counts. D'Ulisse-Cupo v. Board of Directors of Notre Dame High School, 6 Conn.App. 153, 503 A.2d 1192 (1986). We granted certification at the request of the defendants and now conclude that the Appellate Court's judgment must be reversed with respect to the plaintiff's contract counts, so that further trial court proceedings will be limited to the plaintiff's tort claim only.
The plaintiff alleged the following facts in her complaint. From September, 1981, to June, 1983, she taught Spanish and Italian to ninth and tenth grade students at Notre Dame High School in West Haven. During that period, she was employed under an employment contract which expired in June, 1983. On or about March 21, 1983, the defendant Schmitz, the school principal, orally represented to the plaintiff, during a performance review, that "there would be no problem with her teaching certain courses and levels the following year, that everything looked fine for rehire for the next year, and that she should continue her planning for the exchange program" which she organized for the school. Shortly thereafter, during the week of April 11, 1983, Schmitz or his authorized representative posted a written notice on a bulletin board in the school stating: "All present faculty members will be offered contracts for next year." Upon her return from an exchange trip to Italy, the plaintiff was again informed that she would have a teaching contract for the following year. On
The complaint further alleged that Schmitz interviewed the plaintiff for a position in the English department on or about May 27, 1983. Schmitz told the plaintiff and other teachers that the defendants would do everything possible to avoid discharging them. Subsequently, instead of hiring the plaintiff for the position available in the English department, the defendants hired an outside applicant for that position. Furthermore, the defendants allegedly failed to explore alternative job opportunities for the plaintiff or to offer her any substitute teaching positions for which she was qualified and available.
The three counts of the plaintiff's complaint sought recovery of damages on the following legal theories: (1) breach of contract arising out of the defendants' failure to rehire the plaintiff despite oral and written promises of a new contract, on which the plaintiff relied to her detriment; (2) liability in tort because of negligent misrepresentions that the plaintiff would be rehired to teach for a third year, representations on which the plaintiff relied to her detriment; and (3) breach of contract arising out of the defendants' oral promises to avoid discharging teachers unnecessarily and to offer the plaintiff substitute teaching positions, promises on which the plaintiff relied to her detriment. The complaint further alleged that, as a result of these wrongful actions by the defendants, the plaintiff suffered the following damages: the stress of unemployment, loss of esteem, damage to her professional career and reputation, lost wages and fringe benefits, and mental and physical pain and suffering.
In reviewing the judgment of the trial court, the Appellate Court addressed each count of the complaint
In their appeal to this court following our granting of their petition for certification, the defendants challenge each of these conclusions of the Appellate Court. We agree with their claims with regard to the contract counts, counts one and three, but we disagree with respect to the second count alleging liablity for tortious misrepresentation.
We will address jointly the defendants' attack on counts one and three, both of which contest the Appellate Court's conclusions that the various oral and written representations made by the defendants are promises that are enforceable under the doctrine of promissory estoppel. In contesting the first count, the defendants
Under the law of contract, a promise is generally not enforceable unless it is supported by consideration. E. Farnsworth, Contracts (1982) § 2.9, p. 89; A. Corbin, Contracts (1963) § 193, p. 188. This court has recognized, however, the "development of liability in contract for action induced by reliance upon a promise, despite the absence of common-law consideration normally required to bind a promisor; see Restatement (Second), Contracts § 90 (1973)." Sheets v. Teddy's Frosted Foods, Inc., supra, 475; Hebrew University Assn. v. Nye, 148 Conn. 223, 232, 169 A.2d 641 (1961); see A. Corbin, supra, § 194, p. 193. Section 90 of the Restatement Second states that under the doctrine of promissory estoppel "[a] promise which the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forbearance on the part of the promisee or a third person and which does induce such action or forbearance is binding if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise." A fundamental element of promissory estoppel, therefore, is the existence of a clear and definite promise which a promisor could reasonably have expected to induce reliance. Thus, a promisor is not liable to a promisee who has relied on a promise if, judged by an objective standard, he had no reason to expect any reliance at all. E. Farnsworth, supra, § 2.19, p. 95.
We agree with the defendants that these representations do not invoke a cause of action for promissory estoppel because they are neither sufficiently promissory nor sufficiently definite to support contractual liability. The statements alleged to be actionable in the first count were, on their face, no more than representations indicating that the defendants intended to enter into another employment contract with the plaintiff at some time in the future. There is no claim that these representations were not made in good faith. Contrary to the plaintiff's assertion, these representations manifested no present intention on the part of the defendants
The oral promises alleged in the third count, on which the plaintiff also claims to have relied to her detriment, are even more tenuous than those alleged in the first count. After determining that student enrollment levels had declined, the defendant Schmitz allegedly told the plaintiff, in May of 1983, that the defendants would do everything possible to avoid discharging teachers. Nonetheless, the defendants subsequently hired an outside applicant, rather than the plaintiff, for a one year position available in the English department. The defendants also failed to offer the plaintiff substitute teaching positions for which she was allegedly qualified and available. At oral argument before this court, although the defendants conceded having made conciliatory statements of this nature to the plaintiff and other teachers, the defendants continued to maintain their position that these representations were not
Because we disagree with the Appellate Court in its characterization of the plaintiff's complaint with respect to counts one and three, we reverse its judgment relating thereto. We note, for the sake of completeness, that the plaintiff has abandoned any claim that she may recover from the defendants, under count one, on a theory of wrongful discharge.
The defendants' final challenge to the judgment of the Appellate Court claims error in its ruling that the second count states a cause of action in tort for negligent misrepresentation. The second count incorporated by reference all but one of the factual allegations detailed in the paragraphs set forth in the first count, and further alleged that "[t]he defendants negligently misrepresented the facts to the plaintiff, causing her damages as pled." The defendants contend that this count must be stricken because it does not allege that the defendants "fail[ed] to exercise reasonable care or competence in obtaining or communicating the information," which is the language used in § 552 of the Restatement Second of Torts (1979) to define negligence for purposes of such a claim. According to the defendants, the mere allegation that "[t]he defendants negligently misrepresented the facts to the plaintiff," even coupled with the facts alleged in the first count in support of that claim, was insufficient to sustain a cause of action for negligent misrepresentation. We disagree.
This court has long recognized liability for negligent misrepresentation. We have held that even an innocent misrepresentation of fact "may be actionable if the declarant has the means of knowing, ought to know, or has the duty of knowing the truth." Richard v. A. Waldman & Sons, Inc., 155 Conn. 343, 346, 232 A.2d 307 (1967); see also J. Frederick Scholes Agency v. Mitchell, 191 Conn. 353, 359, 464 A.2d 795 (1983); Johnson v. Healy, 176 Conn. 97, 102, 405 A.2d 54 (1978); Warman v. Delaney, 148 Conn. 469, 473, 172 A.2d 188 (1961); Boucher v. Valus, 6 Conn. Cir. Ct. 661, 665-66, 298 A.2d 238 (1972). The governing principles are set forth in similar terms in § 552 of the Restatement
The defendants argue, initially, that if they cannot be held liable in contract for their representations based on promissory estoppel, they likewise cannot be held liable in tort for negligent misrepresentation. For purposes of a cause of action for negligent misrepresentation, however, the plaintiff need not prove that the representations made by the defendants were promissory. It is sufficient to allege that the representations contained false information. The gravamen of the defendants' alleged negligence is that the defendants made unconditional representations of their plans to rehire the plaintiff, when in fact the defendants knew or should have known that hiring plans would be contingent upon student enrollment levels for the following year.
The defendants further object to the allegation of negligent misrepresentation on the ground that the complaint fails to explain the nature of the defendants' negligence, and instead alleges, in mere conclusory fashion, that the defendants "negligently misrepresented" certain facts. The defendants insist that the second count is fatally defective because it lacks an express allegation that the defendants "fail[ed] to exercise reasonable care or competence in obtaining or communicating the information." 3 Restatement (Second), Torts (1979) § 552. They offer no authority, however, for the proposition that the pleader must use the precise language of the Restatement Second to establish a claim for negligent misrepresentation. Although numerous courts have quoted directly from the Restatement Second in describing the elements of an action for negligent misrepresentation, we have discovered no cases, nor have the defendants furnished any, in which a court has struck a claim for negligent misrepresentation merely because the complaint lacked such an allegation. Stagen v. Stewart West Coast Title Co., 149 Cal.App.3d 114, 119, 196 Cal.Rptr. 732 (1983); Eby v. York-Division, Borg-Warner, 455 N.E.2d 623, 628 (Ind. App. 1983); Tober's, Inc. v. Portsmouth Housing Authority, 116 N.H. 660, 663, 367 A.2d 603 (1976); Berry v. Playboy Enterprises, Inc., 195 N.J.Super. 520, 531, 480 A.2d 941 (1984), cert. denied, 99 N.J. 231, 491 A.2d 720 (1985); Rosenthal v. Blum, 529 S.W.2d 102, 104 (Tex. Civ. App. 1975). To the contrary, the case law in numerous jurisdictions suggests that courts liberally construe the pleadings in a way so as to sustain such a claim, particularly where the allegations in a complaint indicate, on their face, that an employer
In our view, the plaintiff's allegation that "the defendants negligently misrepresented the facts to the plaintiff" necessarily implied that the defendants did not exercise reasonable care or competence in communicating with the plaintiff about her prospects for reemployment.
The judgment of the Appellate Court is reversed in part and the court is directed to remand the case for further proceedings in the trial court with respect to count two only.
In this opinion the other justices concurred.