In Dunlap v. Empire Trading Group, LLC, the buyers of a home sued the seller and the seller’s real estate agent for fraud after the home flooded three times in the first year after they bought the home. The seller was a home-flipper who disclosed two prior flooding incidents, both of which occurred during the ten months the seller owned the home.
However, the plaintiffs later discovered the home had a substantial flooding history when they requested a flood insurance quote from the National Flood Insurance Program. The quote included a report that identified eighteen incidents of flooding and flood insurance claims at the property over the ten years before the plaintiffs purchased their home.
The plaintiffs argued the seller’s agent committed fraud because she concealed her knowledge of previous flood claims. The seller’s agent moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs could not prove that she knew about any of the prior undisclosed flooding incidents. The plaintiffs had no direct evidence to dispute the agent’s defense.
Instead, they argued that circumstantial evidence was sufficient to defeat the motion. They claimed that because the seller had a flood policy on the home, it also would have received the same flood claim history the plaintiffs received in connection with the same federal program. However, the plaintiffs had no evidence to show the seller, or anyone affiliated with the agent’s firm, actually received the flood claim history as they alleged.
Based upon these facts, the court agreed that without evidence that the seller’s agent actually received the flood claim history or otherwise had knowledge of it, the plaintiffs could not carry their burden of proving misrepresentation by the agent.
Case Reference: Dunlap v. Empire Trading Group, LLC, 2021-0180 (La. App. 1 Cir. 10/18/21), 331 So. 3d 932.