Legal Newsline

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Delaware court affirms ruling in case over failed sale of home


By Takesha Thomas | Oct 31, 2018


WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) – An appeals court has upheld a lower court's ruling that a woman must pay for damages over the sale of a home.

Superior Court Judge Calvin L. Scott Jr. of the Superior Court of the State of Delaware upheld a Court of Common Pleas decision in the matter involving Sinina Talley-Siders and Jack and Georgia Mayhorn. Siders claimed that she was misled when she attempted to purchase a home from the Mayhorns.

Scott affirmed the lower court's ruling on Oct. 17 that Talley-Siders was in breach of the sales agreement and therefore liable for damages. At trial, the Mayhorns were awarded damages in the amount of $17,236.60 plus pre- and post-judgment interest.

In a June filing, Talley-Siders argued that the Court of Common Pleas based its judgment on an error of the law. Talley-Siders cited Delaware's Buyer Property Protection Act and building code violations. 

The Mayhorns sued Talley-Siders over allegations of breach of contract over the sale of their home. According to the ruling, Talley-Siders also entered a counterclaim for fraud, misrepresentation and bad faith. She alleged that the Mayhorns "intentionally misled her when they listed the property with three bathrooms," the ruling states.

However, at trial the court determined that Talley-Siders breached the sales agreement contract and was therefore liable for damages arising from the breach. At trial, Talley-Siders argued that issues with a sump pump caused her to back out of the sale of the property.

"Even though buyer offered testimony related to the construction of bathrooms in the home, the court determined that buyer did not move forward with the purchase due to issues with the sump pump," the ruling states.

Both the lower court found that "neither the seller nor the agent made a false representation with knowledge of its falsity nor with reckless indifference to the truth. Additionally, the buyer failed to sustain her burden of showing sellers intended to induce buyer into action," the ruling states. 

In her appeal, Talley-Siders argued that the Mayhorns violated the Buyer Property Protection Act which "requires the seller of residential real estate to complete a form—known as the Seller's Disclosure of Real Property Condition Report—disclosing conditions and defects with the property." 

Talley-Siders argued on appeal that the bathroom was constructed without the proper permits, adding that the work was performed in violation of building codes and sellers' failure to disclose the nature of the work in the seller's disclosure is in violation of state's Buyer Protection Act.

But the Mayhorns contended that Talley-Siders "is trying to raise new issues on appeal and the lower court's decision doesn't contain error of law." Attorneys for the Mayhorns contend that Talley-Siders "failed to bring up the Buyer Protection Act and building code violation liability during the trial," the ruling states.

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Delaware Supreme CourtDelaware Superior Court