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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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