Court upholds home developer's liability

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court judgment in favor of homeowners against the developer of their neighborhood, affirming the developer is liable for misleading the homeowners as to what type of homes would be built in the new neighborhood.

In Robert K. Yeager, et al. v. David A. McManama, et al., 49A02-0607-CV-614, the Yeagers, sole members and owners of Yeager Realty, the developer, planned to build Emerald Highlands in the residential neighborhood Murphy's Landing. The developer executed and recorded the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions of the Murphy's Landing Ownership, and included specific language applying to Emerald Highlands and a site plan for the area.

The McManamas and Cotteys agreed to purchase lots and build homes in the new neighborhood, relying on information from the developer and its exclusive builder, Steven Morse, that the neighborhood would be a high-quality, exclusive, upscale neighborhood. Once the plaintiffs built their more than 5,000-square-foot homes in the neighborhood, they noticed that the other homes being built were less than half the size of their homes, causing their home values to decrease.

The plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging fraud, constructive fraud, or fraudulent concealment, and breach of fiduciary duty. The developers were sole members of the Architectural Review Board, which was to regulate the design, appearance, use and location of homes in the neighborhood to maintain and enhance values and appearance.

The Yeagers filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that because the doctrines of fraud and constructive fraud do not apply, there is no fiduciary duty between the parties; and fraudulent concealment is not procedurally applicable in this case.

The trial court ruled the defendants owed the plaintiffs "a duty of fair dealing and honesty" and "a duty of good faith and fair dealing, as well as 'contractual obligations,' pursuant to the Declaration" and concluded the evidence showed the fraud and a failure to meet contractual and fiduciary duties.

The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's decision. The Yeagers were the sole owners and developers of the project and had drafted, executed, and recorded the neighborhood's declaration. The Yeagers were also sole members of the Architectural Review Board and were responsible for enforcing the standards of the homes constructed in Emerald Highlands.

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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.