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e-Journal Summary
Opinion Date: 11/05/2013
e-Journal Date: 11/19/2013
Full Text Opinion

Practice Area(s):   Contracts
Real Property

Issues: Claims arising from a real property sale; Whether the claims of fraudulent misrepresentation, "silent fraud," negligent misrepresentation, and violation of the Seller's Disclosure Act (SDA)(MCL 565.951 et seq.) were barred by the statute of limitations; MCL 600.5805(10); Whether the claims were for damages arising from "injuries to persons or property"; MCL 600.5813; Sweet v. Shreve; Case v. Goren; Coates v. Uhlmann; National Sand, Inc. v. Nagel Constr., Inc.; Blue Cross & Blue Shield v. Folkema; Applicability of Citizens for Pretrial Justice v. Goldfarb and Local 1064 v. Ernst & Young; "Stare decisis"; Duncan v. Michigan; People v. Mitchell; Harm to the plaintiffs' "expectation of value"; Adams v. Adams; Effect of the absence of a limitations period in the SDA; DiPonio Constr. Co. v. Rosati Masonry Co.; Whether the fraud and negligent misrepresentation claims should have been dismissed on the basis plaintiffs did not "reasonably rely" on a representation; Alfieri v. Bertorelli; Unibar Maint. Servs., Inc. v. Saigh; Nieves v. Bell Indus., Inc.; Whether plaintiffs proved silent fraud by clear and convincing evidence; Roberts v. Saffell; Hord v. Environmental Research Inst. of MI; M Civ. JI 128.02; Whether the SDA applied to the individual condo as opposed to the development as a whole; MCL 565.952; Bergen v. Baker; MCL 565.957; "The property"; In re Receivership of 11910 S. Francis Rd.; Purpose of the disclosure statement; "Concerning" defined; Proof that the defendants-realtor and seller "knowingly acted in concert to violate the SDA"; MCL 565.965; Urbain v. Beierling; Admiral Ins. Co. v. Columbia Cas. Ins. Co.; Temborius v. Slatkin; Offset for the amount of the seller's case evaluation; MCL 600.2956; Markley v. Oak Health Care Investors of Coldwater, Inc.
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Bowman v. Greene
e-Journal Number: 55733
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Murray, Donofrio, and Borrello

The court held that the trial court did not err in ruling that the plaintiffs' claims were governed by the 6-year limitations period in MCL 600.5813, and that there was sufficient evidence to allow a rational jury to find that plaintiffs reasonably relied on the brochure at issue and the defendant-realtor's statements. Further, a rational jury could have found that they proved all the elements of silent fraud by clear and convincing evidence, and there was a question of fact as to whether the realtor acted in concert with the defendant-seller to violate the SDA. Thus, the court affirmed the $483,195.18 judgment entered pursuant to a jury verdict for plaintiffs on their claims of fraudulent misrepresentation, silent fraud, negligent misrepresentation and violation of the SDA. It also rejected their cross-appeal and affirmed the trial court's decision to offset the judgment by the amount of the seller's accepted case evaluation. Plaintiffs purchased a condo in a building that was formerly the site of a factory where chemicals were dumped into the ground. The marketing brochure prepared by the realtor stated that "the property has been addressed under current Michigan cleanup requirements through a grant from the [DEQ]." One of the plaintiffs testified that while he was viewing the condo with the realtor, he asked her if there were any "environmental issues" ongoing with the building, and that she assured him that there were none. He also testified that the seller was present and made the same assurance in unison with the realtor (who did not recall the conversation). Also, before plaintiffs made an offer, they reviewed the seller's disclosure statement, in which he indicated that "there were no 'environmental problems' 'on the property.'" Plaintiffs agreed to purchase the condo, but before closing, the DEQ sent a letter to the developer, the realtor, and the condo residents about the status of the site and the brochure. The letter stated that the property remained "highly contaminated with chlorinated solvents in the soil and groundwater, and metals in the near surface soils." It also stated that the brochure "does not represent the facts regarding the contamination and is misleading to the reader. The contamination has not been cleaned up." Plaintiffs were not informed of the letter. Defendants argued, among other things, that plaintiffs' claims were barred by the 3-year limitations period in MCL 600.5805(10). However, the court held that "plaintiffs did not bring claims to recover damages arising from injuries to persons or property. Instead, courts in Michigan have continually applied the six-year limitations period to claims involving fraudulent misrepresentation in a transaction." When the complaint was "viewed as a whole, similar to Sweet, plaintiffs' injuries flowed from the fraud claims, which did not involve injuries to persons or property." The "interest harmed went to plaintiffs' expectation of value."

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