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Legal Memorandum: Liability of a Home Inspector

Issue: May an individual injured on another’s property bring suit against a home inspector who negligently inspected the property by his failure to identify a particular safety hazard?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence, Real Estate Law
Keywords: Home inspector; Inspection; Negligence and breach of contract
Jurisdiction: Federal, Multistate
Cited Cases: 86 Cal. App. 4th 1109; 757 So. 2d 423; 869 So. 2d 909; 568 S.E.2d 536; 644 N.E.2d 907
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 04/01/2006

The following authorities are instructive:

Verdin v. Rogers, No. 05-CA-664 (La. Ct. App. Mar. 14, 2006) (not yet released for publication) (Home inspector had no duty to repairman electrocuted in home two years after the inspection.)

Gentile v. Ristas, 828 N.E.2d 1021 (Ohio Ct. App. 2005) (Home purchaser’s suit against the seller’s hired roofing contractor was barred because purchaser failed to demonstrate contractual privity or third-party beneficiary status.  “It is well settled that a third person not a party to a contract has no enforceable rights under the contract unless the contracting parties intended to create such rights.  . . . Although the third party for whose benefit the contract is made need not be identified in the contract, the third party must have contemplated by the parties at the time of contracting.”)

In Re Brown, 319 B.R. 278 (Bankr. D.C. 2004) (Debtor sued a fee inspector hired by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for negligence and breach of contract relating to the inspection of home renovations.  The court held that the inspector owed no duty to the debtor to create liability for negligence or breach of contract.)

Smith v. State Farm Ins. Co., 869 So. 2d 909 (La. Ct. App. 2004) (Homeowners sued contractor hired by their insurance company to inspect the home for mold, alleging negligence and breach of contract in his failure to inform the homeowners directly of the mold presence.  The court held that the inspector owed the homeowners no legal duty […]

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