Court Says Seller Has No Duty to Disclose Murder-Suicide

July 23, 2014 – In The News
The Legal Intelligencer

Abraham C. Reich was quoted in The Legal Intelligencer article, “Court Says Seller Has No Duty to Disclose Murder-Suicide.” Full text can be found in the July 23, 2014, issue, but a synopsis is below.

On July 21, 2014, the state Supreme Court ruled that sellers are not mandated to disclose the event of a murder-suicide in a home to potential buyers in the case of first impression, as the event does not constitute have a material defect that diminishes the value of the property.

Janet S. Milliken had sued the sellers of her house and broker Re/Max under claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law violations for not disclosing a murder-suicide that had taken place on the property she purchased.

A team of Fox Rothschild attorneys represented Re/Max in this case.

Reich states, “I think Justice Eakin properly realized the slippery slope that would occur by concluding that a psychological stigma could impact the value of property and therefore constitute a material defect. The legislature spoke when it enacted the real estate disclosure law and enumerated items that were required to be disclosed, all relating to physical items relating to the property or items impacting the title.”

Reich also concluded that it is for the legislature to define which if any psychological events should require disclosure, which he claims some states have done.