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Purchasers cannot sue over mold problem

Dr. Charles Gabe and his wife bought a home knowing that it had water problems in the basement.  They attempted to sue when they later learned of mold problems in the walls.  They couldn't point to an express misrepresentation by the sellers, however, they believed that the sellers were guilty of "silent" fraud--that is, failing to disclose all that they knew about the existence of "material" water and mold problems.

The Court pointed out that the purchasers had received two separate seller disclosure statements identifying water issues in the basement and their own inspector had found evidence of water intrusion.  When the purchasers signed the pre-sale release under these facts, by statute [MCL 565.955(1)] the sellers were relieved from any liability for non-disclosure of facts that "could be obtained only through inspection or observation of inaccessible portions of real estate or could be discovered only by a person with expertise in science or trade beyond the knowledge of the [seller]."  Since the mold problems were not evident to a lay person who hadn't dug into the walls, the purchasers could not prevail without showing facts that disclosed actual knowledge and suppression of evidence of a problem beyond the disclosure statement.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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