ILNews

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. 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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