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Homeowner brings action against engineer who performed prepurchase home inspection and deemed house structurally sound - Plaintiff claims defendant failed to detect problems with house's foundation which became apparent five years after purchase.

Suffolk County

In ________, the plaintiff purchased a house which at the time was between twenty and twenty five years old. Prior to its purchase, the plaintiff had engaged the services of the defendant, an engineer, to conduct a prepurchase inspection. The defendant’s report concluded that the house was structurally sound, but did have settling cracks in the foundation. The plaintiff alleged that five years after purchasing the house, its foundation began to shift because of subsurface soil problems. The plaintiff claimed that the cracking in the foundation had progressed to major foundation defects. The defendant argued that the problems with the foundation could be caused by problems which were not visible to him at the time of his inspection.

The plaintiff called an expert engineer who opined that settling of the subsoil caused the walls of the house to deflect inward at a regular rate and that these problems should have been foreseen by the defendant engineer at the time of his inspection. The plaintiff’s expert engineer further claimed that the deflection would worsen and cause instability to the foundation. He felt that the foundation should be replaced at a cost of $________.

The defendant’s expert engineer opined that the soil problems might have been caused by the movement of buried debris would cause the subsoil to collapse inward and affect the stability of the house’s foundation. He maintained that this debris and its affects on the foundation would not and could not have been visible to the defendant at the time of his inspection.

The plaintiff had demanded an award of $________ which was the amount the plaintiff’s expert engineer felt it would cost to replace the home’s foundation.

After a trial of three days and after deliberating for three hours, the jury returned a defendant’s verdict.

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