Monday, July 30, 2007

real property - consumer protection - disclosures

Growall v. Maietta - Superior Court - July 26, 2007

Jury found husband/seller liable but not wife/seller, for failure to tell buyer about basement water problem The appellate court affirmed

- under Consumer Protection Law, 73 PS 201-1 et seq., because it appeared that the purchase was for investment and not personal, family, or household purposes

- under Real Estate Settlement Disclosure Law, 68 Pa C.S. 7301 et seq., because - jury found wife did not know of problem at time of sellers' RESDL disclosure - seller/wife was not obligated to make any specific investigation or inquiry to complete the disclosure, 68 Pa CS 7307
- seller/wife not liable to error or inaccuracy or omission if she did not have knowledge of it, 68 Pa. CS 7308
- there was no allegation or proof that there was a problem until 2 months after disclosure statement filled out

The court distinguished similar cases, since they involved "basic facts" about the property "readily ascertainable by the sellers," e.g., zoning retrictions and boundary lines. In the case at bar, the problem was called "an isolated incident of water damage/flooding in the basement," and not a "basis fact."