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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Chicago, IL
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    Default Lawsuit of the year

    Just got a call from a fellow inspector (not on this board).

    The story goes like this:

    1) He inspects a a flip, house with an abandoned oil tank in the crawl space.

    2) He writes it up with the usual cautions as to removal only by a qualified, insured and properly licensed yada, yada yada.

    3) Seller instead gets some of his pickup construction helpers cut up and remove the tank.

    4) Oops...crawl space ends up soaked with oil. (Whoda' thunk it?).

    5) Seller then hires unlicensed "electrician" to clean up various defects noted in the report (Where could this be headed?)...

    6) ... "electrician" creates short-circuit, ((Whoda' thunk it?).

    7) Which spews sparks....

    ... and...

    ... (drum roll)....

    ... ignites oil.

    8) One conflagration later, house is a total loss.

    9) Seller discovers that the inspector is the only person involved in this fiasco who is insured.

    10) Seller sues inspector...

    ... for failing to point out that incorrect removal oil tank can create a fire hazard.

    Similar Threads:
    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 06-17-2011 at 03:00 PM.
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    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Lawsuit of the year

    Is this a great job, or what?

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
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    Default Re: Lawsuit of the year

    "Is this a great job, or what?"

    Ranks up there with being the sellers attorney working on contingency

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Lawsuit of the year

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    The story goes like this:

    1) He inspects a a flip, house with an abandoned oil tank in the crawl space.

    2) He writes it up with the usual cautions as to removal only by a qualified, insured and properly licensed yada, yada yada.

    9) Seller discovers that the inspector is the only person involved in this fiasco who is insured.

    10) Seller sues inspector...

    ... for failing to point out that incorrect removal oil tank can create a fire hazard.
    Michael,

    I think the inspector is covered in that the first questions/statements of the seller in the response letter should be:
    - Please provide qualifications of the tank removal contractor.
    - Please provide a copy of the insurance carried by the tank removal contractor.
    - Please provide a copy of the license of the tank removal contractor.
    - Please provide yada, yada, yada ...

    The second statement would be something like:
    - Please provide other documentation that you followed the recommendations spelled out in the inspection report.

    The final statement would be something like:
    - Otherwise ... Buddy, you screwed yourself by not following my recommendations!

    Is the home inspector supposed to warn the seller that: "Hey, DUDE, if you empty the fuel oil tank by drinking its contents ... YOU WILL DIE!"

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

  5. #5
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Lawsuit of the year

    I know of an inspector that was sued for kind of the same thing only it was a gas pipe that did not have a cap on the end. Owners guy from south of the Border is working on the house and removes the red tag from the propane tank so he can have some heat from the old rust out wall heater. So he gets out a bic lighter and Booooooom Baby. The HI Insurance settles for 900K Paid to the owners guy.

    The HI pointed everything out with photos. BUT JUST THE HIs DUMB LUCK.

    Best

    Ron


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI
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    Default Re: Lawsuit of the year

    M.T.

    Get yourself a copy of the Mark Brown (Columnist, Sun Times) May 7, 2008 Column (743 words) for your arsenal. Lots of these still exist above and below ground; N.S., Oak Park, Shiller Park, etc. Local permitting and rules vary regarding abandonment, removal, and/or disposal. Most first in Torrens, little if any coverage or protection as most is excluded in Title Insurance policies, H.O. Ins. etc.

    Basic 101 is to pump out contents, dispose of responsibly (for example cook county environmental control regs, IEPA regs, USEPA regs, cradle to grave - trail, wash tank, presuming no leakage issues, then determining sand fill or cut and removal, sampling, etc.

    Cicero Oil Co., R.W. Collins are two such contractors who provide such detection, clean-up, removal, services for residential above ground and below ground storage tanks and related clean-up svcs & testing. Both are mentioned in the article and have information on their web-sites. I am sure there are others.

    RW Collins Featured Projects

    Cicero Oil Company - - Chicago, Illinois

    Some munis have specifics as do some county offices (unincorp areas) depending on size, location, proximity, etc.. Water reclamation Districts also, in re contamination issues, etc.

    Special Local rules, ordinances, etc. may apply. Smaller than 1,100 gal, res. UST type or AST type not covered by grant programs or required registration like others; if SF residential, for clean-up/removal help. City of Chicago has specifics exempted from the general rules/legistlation IEPA, OSFM, IDPH, etc. As you are aware exemptions for self-work generally, in areas of plumbing, etc. are not applicable when in anticipation or consideration for an exchange or sale/property transition for owner occupied properties, etc.

    Anyone can be sued for just about anything, as can anyone threaten to sue. Sounds easily defensible and enjoing proper parties for the fouled up, negligent, work the owners/sellers did upon their own, irresponsiblly and negligently. Can't imagine a H.I. being held responsible for identifying a concern - or imagine a H.I. directing or prescribing a remediation method regarding to Haz Mat/Environmental contamination mine field.

    Imagine somewhere along the line someone holds/held paper on the property - expect there would be scads of cross complaints, even possibly via the chain of title. What's the primary case citation? I'd like to follow it. Which County (cook?, DuPage? Lake? etc.); or has one actually been filed?? Do you know? or is this just from the rumor mill? The H.I. would be well advised to acquire additional representation/advice in addition to or just relying upon his imdeminity - esp if injuries/death involved may easily exceed limitations.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Re: Lawsuit of the year

    HG, I know the inspector pretty well - we're supposed to go to the range next time we both have a free afternoon, I'll get more details then.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lake Barrington, IL
    Posts
    1,363

    Default Re: Lawsuit of the year

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Just got a call from a fellow inspector (not on this board).
    9) Seller discovers that the inspector is the only person involved in this fiasco who is insured.
    10) Seller sues inspector...
    That's why I no longer carry E&O.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    so so, California
    Posts
    1,769

    Default Re: Lawsuit of the year

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    That's why I no longer carry E&O.
    Hey Eric, you dont have E&O? So, how does that work? I mean, if you get into a pinch, what insurance do you carry that will cover any claims?
    Thanks
    Marc
    I feel for that poor inspector.

    The MAZZA INSPECTION GROUP
    www.mazzainspections.com
    Level III Thermo-picture-taker-er...er

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Greenville, N.C.
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: Lawsuit of the year

    Hell, I'm still wandering around the the Federal Court system waiting to be released from my never ending suit. Thanks to E & O, I long ago quit even thinking about it. Every now and then my attorney emails me and fills me in on the plaintiffs latest antics. He then bills my insurance provider.
    JLMathis


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