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ARTICLE ID 162248

$________ Breach of real estate contract - Fraud - Misrepresentation - Water damage to basement of condominium unit immediately after purchase.

Bristol County, MA

The plaintiffs in this breach of contract, fraud and misrepresentation case purchased a condominium unit from the defendant, a developer and attorney, after the defendant allegedly provided information that there had been no previous water damage to the property. Shortly after closing on the property and before the two plaintiffs moved into the unit, they found water in the basement and alleged that the defendant knowingly misrepresented her knowledge of the condition of previous water damage to the property. The plaintiffs additionally claimed the defendant misrepresented the condition of the property in stating that because the unit had been rebuilt and subsequently inspected, there was therefore, no need for further inspection. The defendant denied ever making statements regarding her lack of knowledge of water damage and counterclaimed with allegations of slander and tortious interference with a business relationship.

The plaintiffs, a mother and daughter, purchased the condominium on March 26, ________ for $________. In June ________, prior to moving in, they opened the door to the basement and discovered water, which continued through the time of trial. The plaintiffs claimed that prior to closing, the defendant verbally stated the property had no previous water damage and that there was no need for a property inspection to be done.

Prior to the sale, the defendant rented out the property and the plaintiffs introduced testimony from a previous tenant who while living in the condominium experienced water in the basement which damaged her personal property. This witness provided time stamped photos that showed water in the basement of the unit eight years prior. The witness testified she notified the defendant of the water in the basement, showed her the water damage and terminated her lease because of this. With allegations that the defendant knew of water in the basement in both the unit and in adjacent units, the plaintiffs argued the purchase and sale agreement was breached and that in making false statements about her knowledge of previous water damage the defendant was in violation of Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 93A which governs unfair and deceptive business practices.

While the defendant continued to deny she made such verbal statements to the plaintiffs, she additionally denied she had knowledge of water damage in the basement of adjacent units and that she was shown the water damage sustained to the personal property of the prior tenant. The defendant filed a counterclaim demanding $________ for tortious interference and slander, which she withdrew on the first day of trial. The weeklong trial decided the matter of breach of contract, fraud and unfair and deceptive business practices on the part of the defendant.

The plaintiffs’ environmental testing expert testified to the existence of mold in the basement, and the plaintiff’s mold remediation expert opined the cost of remediation would total $________. A basement waterproofing expert testified that the cost of correcting the water problem would come to $________. The plaintiffs’ real estate expert opined that in addition to these costs, the plaintiffs would incur another $________ in devaluation with a property stigma adjustment of ten percent.

The court awarded the plaintiff multiple damages and found the defendant guilty of breach of contract, unfair and deceptive business practices, fraud and misrepresentation in the amount of $________, yet under General Law Chapter 93A, the court was able to award punitive or double damages. In addition, the court awarded the plaintiffs’ attorneys fees in the amount of $________ and costs totaling $________, bringing the total verdict with $________ in interest to $________.

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