Realtors May Be Liable For Failure To Disclose Elevator Deaths

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently reversed a trial court decision dismissing claims against realtors for failure to disclose the deaths of two children in an elevator accident in a private home sold through those realtors. The listing agent was shown to have actual knowledge of the accident and had actually conferred with Coldwell Banker which advised that it was unnecessary to disclose it to the purchasers.  It should be noted that Coldwell Banker requires sellers to complete and provide a sellers disclosure statement to all home buyers, which could have included the accident information.  The selling agent claimed that he did not know about the accident until after the closing, but the court found that the purchasers were entitled to proceed with their case to attempt to prove otherwise.  Although New Jersey regulations do not require a realtor to disclose social conditions or psychological impairments, the court found that the elevator accident presented the issue of whether the elevator was defective, which is information that the realtors were obligated to disclose.  The court also found that the fact that the purchasers removed the elevator during the litigation did not warrant the dismissal of the lawsuit against the realtors, although that would prevent the realtors from proving that the elevator was safe.  It considered that the non-disclosure of the occurrence of the accident itself was a basis for the realtors’ potential liability.  The case will return to the trial court for further proceedings.

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