In a case that had more than a scent of trouble, a Massachusetts jury has rejected a woman's claim against her Realtor® in a lawsuit involving second-hand smoke. It was the first suit of its kind to make it to trial in the state.
When 32 year old Alyssa Burrage first visited the bright and sunny parlor-level condo in Boston's South end she distinctly remembered the smell of smoke permeating the air. When she mentioned this fact to her broker, he assured her that the owner of the unit must have been a smoker and that the odor could be made to disappear.
After purchasing the unit for $405,000 and paying an unspecified amount in repairs she moved into her new home only to make an unpleasant discovery.
Not only was the smoke smell still there but it seemed as though it was emanating from the condo below. Apparently, one of the two men who lived there was a smoker. Burrage asked the condo association for help with the matter but it was to no avail.
Living with a life-long condition of asthma, she ended up in a situation where it was a struggle to breathe in the smoke-filled environment and eventually had to move out of her home.
During her week-long court case, Burrage remembered that the broker had burned candles at his open house and had passed off the cigarette smell as something that would go away after she moved in.
Well - it didn't. And, her attorney asked for more than $70,000 in damages for personal injuries along with the cost of remodeling the condo.
In the end, it took the 14-member jury less than an hour to rule in favor of the Sotheby Realtor®.
My guess is that the agent:
- had a good attorney, and
- was lucky to have drawn this jury.
Whatever the outcome for this Realtor® implies, I think the fact that this case went to trial underscores the significance of second-hand smoke issues. And, before we pass it off as something that will probably just go away - perhaps a little more investigation is in order.
Copyright 2010 - Holding a Realtor's® Feet to the Fire over Second-Hand Smoke
Claudette Millette, Broker, Owner, The Buyers' Counsel - a Buyer Broker Since 1992
If you have questions about buying a home in Massachusetts please give me a call at 508-881-6230 or Email Me. It would be a pleasure to talk with you.
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