Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren Ltd.
For 20 years, Tamara O’Neill Moreland of Larkin Hoffman has litigated cases to successful conclusions against city and state agencies in state and federal court and successfully handled a wide variety of appeals.
But last year was really crazy, Moreland said.
Now the market is slowing because of interest rates, but in the seller’s market last year people were doing things she’s never seen before, including forgoing inspection of the expensive, maybe even overpriced, properties they were purchasing, Moreland said.
“It’s one of the problems we’ve got in litigation,” Moreland said. The seller’s duty to advise of possible flaws extends to what the seller knows about. That can leave a gap that an inspection can fill. “People wanted to obtain a house and then recoup their bad decisions and shoehorn everything into the duty of disclosure. Lawyers may try to justify that their client didn’t bother to inspect and overpaid for the house.” Certainly if a seller lies on a disclosure statement the buyer should go after them, Moreland adds.
Moreland advises sellers to demand an inspection contingency in a purchase agreement in order to stave off a lawsuit. But the lawsuits will have to work their way through the system. “We’re going to have water in the basement litigation for a while.”
Moreland sees a lack of civility in the litigation process. “Everybody was quite good during the pandemic. It’s like people used up all their niceness. Everything is a fight. Litigation should be a last resort because it drains money, time and energy,
“I always try to find a better option. Clients are pretty frustrated by the time they call a litigator. They call and say we have to sue. The next call, it’s ‘let’s try to work it out first,’” she said.