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Douglas v. Visser
Washington Court of Appeal
295 P.3d 800 (2013)
Terry and Dianne Visser (defendants) purchased a house that needed significant repairs. The Vissers began renovations, but decided to sell the house instead. Nigel and Kathleen Douglas (plaintiffs) made an offer to purchase the house. In the course of the transaction, the Vissers filled out a seller-disclosure statement that indicated they did not know the answers to many of the questions posed. The Douglases asked for clarification, and the Vissers provided supplemental answers. The Douglases did not find the responses adequate, but did not follow up further. The Douglases hired an inspector, Dennis Flaherty, to inspect the property. Flaherty noticed rot and decay near the roof and under the house, but concluded that these issues did not pose a structural threat to the house. The Douglases did not discuss the inspection report with Flaherty or the Vissers. After closing on the house, the Douglases noticed a damp smell and potato bugs inside some of the rooms. The Douglases called Flaherty to inspect the house again. This time, Flaherty found evidence of mold and additional rot, pest, and structural damage to the house. The Douglases defaulted on payment. Flaherty and another inspector examined the property once again and concluded that the Vissers had made repairs before the purchase to conceal the damage. The Douglases sued the Vissers for fraudulent or negligent concealment. The trial court found in favor of the Douglases, and the Vissers appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Appelwick, J.)
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