Home buyers claim agents concealed mold problems

Kelly Holleran Feb. 26, 2010, 8:44am

A couple claims their real estate agent persuaded them not to have an inspection on their home before they purchased it because she knew the home had mold issues.

April and Charles Purgahn filed a lawsuit Feb. 18 in Jefferson County District Court against Donna Burnett, Gertie Ewing and Jerry Hughes Realty.

The Purgahns claim they entered into a contract with Burnett to purchase her home at 110 Amaryllis in Orange on Dec. 24. Ewing, an agent for Jerry Hughes Realty, represented both parties in the transaction, according to the complaint.

However, before the sale of the home, Burnett failed to warn the Purghans of a mold problem in the house, even though she knew about it prior to the transaction, the suit states.

At the urging of their realtor and Burnett, the Purghans elected not to have an inspection performed on the home, which would have revealed the problem, the complaint says.

"Defendants further stated to Plaintiffs that getting an inspection of the residence would further delay the 'closing,' and Plaintiffs would not be able to move into the residence in as timely of a manner," the suit states. "Defendants stated that 'it would only be a waste of time and money and it would only slow up the sale and close of the transaction.' This statement was made to Plaintiffs so that Plaintiffs would forgo the inspection and close of the residence in an expedient manner. Defendants knew that if an inspection was conducted the mold would be discovered and all three Defendants would lose out of the money that would be received from the sale of this property."

The Purgahns allege misrepresentation, violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, fraud, unconscionability and vicarious liability against the defendants.

They seek actual damages, including closing costs, down payment, insurance purchased for the home, repair costs, the mold test expense, improvements paid for on the residence and moving expenses. In addition, they seek punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.

John Pat Parsons of the Lindsay Law Firm in Beaumont will be representing them.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: B185-981.

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