Meaghan C. Bryan obtains summary judgment in favor of a certified home inspector in a real estate disclosure suit arising from alleged mold infestation
Meaghan C. Bryan obtained summary judgment in favor of a certified home inspector who allegedly failed to observe and report to the plaintiff homebuyers signs of water intrusion and mold in the home at the time of the home inspection. According to the plaintiffs, who were first-time homebuyers of a home that allegedly developed a mold infestation within a month of the purchase, the home inspector should have noticed and disclosed that the drywall had been replaced throughout the home and basement, there was heavy white paint covering the concrete walls of the basement, and there were rusty drywall screws in the basement walls. The plaintiffs alleged that these were clear signs of a prior mold remediation, and that the inspector should have advised them of this, in which case they would not have purchased the home. The plaintiffs were claiming both property damage and mold-related personal injuries on behalf of their entire family of five. Bryan moved for summary judgment on several bases, including (1) the inspection contract excluded an inspection for visible mold, because certified home inspectors are not mold experts; (2) the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) standards required only a limited, visual inspection of material defects presently at the property, and new drywall, fresh paint, and drywall screws were not material defects; (3) the contract had a 1-year time limitation, and the plaintiffs did not negotiate for an enhanced or modified scope; and (4) the plaintiffs spoliated evidence when they refinished their basement. The Court agreed with all of these arguments and dismissed the plaintiffs claims against the inspector with prejudice.