Louapre v. Booher, a New Orleans case from just recently.
Facts: The Louapres purchased a property located in New Orleans from the Boohers. The Boohers executed a property disclosure statement which specified existing defects to the interior walls, windows, and exterior walls, but indicated that no defects existed with respect to the roof, pool, plumbing system, water piping, electrical, and heating and air conditioning systems.
The Louapres hired someone to inspect the property and their report said that there were major deficiencies that might require additional investingation regarding the heating and air conditioning system, interior and exterior structural issues, the roof, and the plumbing among other issues. Some of these deficiencies contradicted the information previously provided by the Boohers in the property disclosure statement.
The Louapre's filed a suit in redhibition to recover the amount incurred to remedy the defects in the home, along with damages and attorney's fees. The Boohers filed a no cause of action and a motion for summary judgement on the grounds that the Louapres had actual knowledge of the defects in the home prior to signing the act of sale, and the Louapres waived their warranty against redhibtion at the time of the sale. The trial court ruled in favor of the Boohers and dismissed the Louapres' claims.
Result: Affirmed by the Court of Appeal in New Orleans.
Rationale: Louisiana Civil Code article 2520 provides that a seller warrants the buyer against redhibitory defects in the thing sold. In a redhibitory action, the plaintiff must prove that the thing sold contained a hidden defect before the sale that was not apparent upon ordinary inspection. Pursuant to La. C.C. art. 2521, the seller owes no warranty for defects that were
known to the buyer at the time of the sale or for defects that should have been discovered by a reasonably prudent buyer.
Thus, apparent defects, which the buyer can discover through a simple inspection, are excluded from the seller's legal warranty. Under La. C.C. art. 2521, if the defect could have been discovered by simple inspection, a buyer has a duty to make a further investigation; the failure to do so constitutes a waiver of any complaint of a redhibitory defect.
The Louapres relied on an earlier court decision, where the Supreme Court pronounced that if a seller represents on a propertydisclosure form that no defects in the property exist, the buyer has a right to rely on those representations and is not then required to show that the seller had actual knowledge of the defects to recover in redhibition. However, unlike the earllier case, this court had the ability to rely on the written inspection report and the evidence of the negotiations of the parties to remedy the defects before the sale.
The pre-sale inspection prepared on behalf of the Louapres was presented to them after the receipt of the property disclosure form. This report identified numerous defects. The court found because of this inspection the Louapres knew or should have known of the defects. The Louapres also did not act as reasonable prudent buyer by failing to conduct any
further inspection or investigation of the property prior to the act of sale.
The buyers also negotiated with the sellers to receive a $6,500 credit towards the closing cost so they could repair or remedy the defects in the property. Pursuant to La. C.C. art. 2521, the defects about which the Louapres complain are excluded from the seller's legal warranty and, consequently, the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the Boohers dismissing the Louapres' claim for redhibitory damages. The Louapres also waived their right to redhibition,meaning they waived their right to rely on any representations concerning the condition of the property made by the Boohers in the property disclosure agreement, and in connection with the sale.