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Thread: Seller Threats

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Windsor Ontario
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    Default Seller Threats

    You may have often heard where a seller threatens to sue a home inspector for various comments or issues raised by the inspection. Do you know of any cases where a seller has been successful with such a claim?

    Here's an example.

    "Recently a home inspection was performed on my home, which was for sale at the time (recently sold). The inspector was hired by prospective buyers. Due to comments made by the inspector, I visited your site. Firstly I want to say how informative and professional your website is – thank you. I had a chance to briefly look over the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics for the (removed/blanked out). Based on the verbal comments below made by the home inspector, I feel he may be outside his limits of education, training and/or experience, and not maintaining objectivity (knowingly overstating or understating the significance of observed conditions)."

    This does not involve me. I'm searching for background information to follow-up on this.

    Thanks in advance. Off the record of course!

    Inspection Referral SOC

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Caledon, Ontario
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    Default Re: Seller Threats

    Claude,

    I found no cases in Canadian law for 'Tortious Interference' by a home inspector misreporting or embellishing findings.

    However if an inspector makes comments that are not factual erroneous and outside the confines of the SOP, standard of care and duty of care, contract, then there is a strong chance a suit could succeed in my view not only under tortious interference but negligent misrepresentation.

    Just because there are no cases which I found does not mean its not going to happen to someone in the future as the facts will determine if there is a case that could succeed. But I stress the circumstances would be determinate.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Seller Threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Lawrenson View Post
    ... (knowingly overstating or understating the significance of observed conditions)."
    Now that is a likely non-winnable subjective opinion.

    I would not want to be on the stand trying to prove that was done.

    I would love to be on the stand shooting that down. Would be like using a Punt Gun (2 ga) shooting down an entire flock of birds with one shot.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Seller Threats

    http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...ed-seller.html

    Tortious interference?

    I liked to see that fly and dependent on the wording of the purchase agreement as per the purchaser and his right to contract with the inspector independent of the Realtor and the purchasers need to excercise due diligence.

    Summary judgment proof conclusively establishing appellees' defense of privilege.

    The elements of tortious interference with contract are (1) the existence of a contract subject to interference; (2) the occurrence of an act of interference that was willful and intentional; (3) the act was a proximate cause of the claimant's damage; and (4) actual damage or loss occurred. Baty v. Protech Ins. Agency, 63 S.W.3d 841, 856-57 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2001, pet. denied) (citing Powell Indus., Inc. v. Allen, 985
    S.W.2d 455, 456 (Tex. 1998)). Even if the plaintiff establishes all the elements of a claim for tortious interference with a contract, the defendant may avoid liability if it establishes the elements of the defense of justification. Id. at 857 (citing Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. v. Fin. Review Servs., Inc., 29 S.W.3d 74, 77-78 (Tex. 2000)). "[T]he justification defense can be based on the exercise of either (1) one's own legal rights or (2) a good-faith claim to a colorable legal right, even though that claim ultimately proves to be mistaken." Fin. Review Servs., 29 S.W.3d at 80. If a trial court finds as a matter of law the defendant had a legal right to interfere with a contract, the defendant has conclusively established the justification defense, and the motive is irrelevant. Id.

    Tortious interference with prospective business relationsThis court has previously outlined the apparent requirements to succeed on a claim for tortious interference with a prospective business relationship:

    (1) a reasonable probability that the plaintiff would have entered into a business relationship;
    (2) an independently tortious or unlawful act by the defendant that prevented the relationship from occurring;
    (3) the defendant did such act with a conscious desire to prevent the relationship from occurring or the defendant knew the interference was certain or substantially certain to occur as a result of the conduct; and
    (4) the plaintiff suffered actual harm or damages as a result of the defendant's interference.

    And..

    IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

    http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documen...s/99D0502P.pdf

    A. Tortious Interference with Contract

    To establish a cause of action for tortious interference with contractual relations, the plaintiff must prove (1) the existence of a contractual relationship; (2) an intent on the part of the defendant to harm the plaintiff by interfering with that contractual relationship; (3) the absence of a privilege or justification for such interference; and (4) damages resulting from the defendant’s conduct. Triffin v. Janssen, 626 A.2d 571, 574 (Pa. Super. 1993).

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Windsor Ontario
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    Default Re: Seller Threats

    Thanks for the feedback, it's greatly appreciated.

    First it's often a matter of "he said/she said" if it was a verbal comment. The other part being the parties to the home inspection contract are typically more often than not the inspector and the client. Of course the other element being what actually was documented in the written inspection report.

    I'm not saying that it's impossible for an inspector to upset an anxious home owner, and this is a typical concerned owners reaction.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Seller Threats

    If it is not in the report, it would be very hard to sue someone. I once got a letter from an angry seller. In his letter he claimed that the sellers agent said the buyer's agent said that I told the buyer not to buy the house.
    In my response, I pointed out that not only was the buyers agent not at the inspection, neither was the sellers agent. So it would be impossible for them to know what I did or did not say to my client.
    I also asked him to carefully read my report to see exactly what I did report on, and read the entire thing. At no place in the report did I say for my client not to buy the house.

    I also asked him to contact me if he felt that I put anything in the report that was not true.

    Never heard from him again.


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