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Court affirms judgment for developer, real estate company in suit over sinking home

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A couple who sued a subdivision developer and real estate company after the builder went out of business to recover damages because their home was sinking could not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse summary judgment for the companies.

James and Gayle Corry’s home was built by Woodland Homes of Ft. Wayne, which has filed for bankruptcy and gone out of business. The Corrys purchased a lot from Woodland that it had obtained from Oakmont, the subdivision developer. Testing of the soil showed that the Corrys’ lot would require the home be built on pilings because the soil was unstable. The Corrys and their realtor, Steve Jahn, who was also president of Woodland, discussed the need for pilings, but Jahn told the couple that the house didn’t need pilings and they would “beef up” the concrete slab.

Almost immediately after moving into the home in 2002, the Corrys discovered structural problems. Jahn said the issues were cosmetic and corrected them, but in 2007, after learning that Woodland had gone bankrupt, the Corry’s sought to meet with Mike Thomas Associates, where Jahn had also worked. No solutions were agreed to, so later that year, the Corrys sued Jahn, Woodland, Oakmont and MTA for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of warranty, negligence and fraud. The trial court granted Oakmont and MTA’s motion for summary judgment on the claims.

The Court of Appeals held that Oakmont and MTA weren’t parties to the construction contract at issue, so summary judgment was appropriate on the breach of contract claim. There is no cause of action arising from belated provision of a limited agency disclosure form, so summary judgment was proper on the breach of fiduciary duty claim.

The trial court properly declined to impose an implied warranty of habitability on Oakmont and MTA where Woodland, as the builder, was the entity best positioned to prevent the home from sinking. The trial court also properly granted summary judgment on the negligence claim because the Corrys’ claim is for economic loss and they are relegated to recovery in contract as opposed to negligence law.

The designated materials show Oakmont and MTA didn’t make fraudulent misrepresentations to the Corrys, and Jahn did not act as an agent of Oakmont or MTA when representing that his building methodology was superior and would produce a long-standing product, the appellate court ruled. Thus summary judgment on the fraud claim was appropriate.

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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