Monday, January 6, 2014

Easton v. Strassburger case brief

Easton v. Strassburger case brief summary
152 Cal. App. 3d 90 (1984)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant realty company sought review of a decision of the Superior Court of Contra Costa County (California), in favor of respondent buyer in respondent's action for fraud and negligence in the sale of residential property.

CASE FACTS
After respondent buyer purchased property, using appellant realty company as her listing broker, earth movements damaged the property. Respondent brought a negligence action against appellant, which was found negligent.

DISCUSSION

  • On appeal, the court reversed the judgment denying appellant a right to partial indemnity, entered judgment in favor of appellant, and otherwise affirmed the judgment. 
  • The court found that the disputed jury instruction was correct because appellant had a duty to disclose facts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property which through reasonable diligence should have been known. 
  • There was substantial evidence to support the trial court's judgment because a number of red flags indicated problems with the property. 
  • The court held that the issue was not within the knowledge of experts only. 
  • The court did not hear appellant's argument that the wrong measure in awarding damages was used because appellant did not preserve the issue for appeal. 
  • Because appellant sought partial indemnity based on comparative fault, it was error to instruct without qualification that a party seeking indemnity cannot recover if his negligence was deemed active.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed the trial court's decision that denied appellant realty company's right to partial indemnity and affirmed the judgment which found appellant negligent because it had a duty to disclose facts to respondent buyer which affected the property's value and was discoverable by reasonable diligence. Because appellant sought partial indemnity, a jury instruction that active negligence blocked partial indemnity was incorrect.

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