Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"stable," "traditional" and "family-based" are puffing descriptions of housing development

Kelly v. Beazer Homes USA, Inc., --- Fed.Appx. ----, 2014 WL 107961 (9th Cir. Jan. 13, 2014)

Plaintiffs bought homes from defendants; the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of their various fraudulent concealment etc. claims based on the condition of the overall development.  “While a seller’s duty to disclose may extend to known nuisances on neighboring properties, California courts have never suggested that a seller must disclose the financial condition of neighbors to a prospective buyer. As the district court cogently observed, ‘an indebted neighbor’ is not akin ‘to one who creates a noxious nuisance on his or her property.’”  Also, defendants’ references to the “stable,” “traditional,” and “family-based” character of the developments were too vague to be actionable.  The other challenged representations were either qualified by express disclaimers, promises from the plaintiffs to the builders, or vague expressions of defendants’ “desires.”  Any reliance was unjustifiable as a matter of law.  This also doomed the statutory UCL claims.

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