Dual agency tangles agent and broker up in potentially costly lawsuit

The Ohio Court of Appeals has upheld a $216,337 jury award levied against a seller who was accused of concealing a home’s defects, and sent the case back to the trial court saying that the seller’s agent and brokerage should also pay damages to the buyer for having breached their fiduciary duty in representing both the buyer and seller as dual agents.

Saleswoman Angela Shanks of Acceleration Enterprises LLC, which does business as Realtec Real Estate, was allegedly given a list of problems identified during an inspection conducted by a prospective buyer. Shanks added a handwritten addendum to a proposed purchase contract detailing problems, including foundation defects.

After that deal fell through, Shanks pointed out repairs that were done to the property to the eventual buyer, but did not discuss all of the defects that had been listed in the addendum. The trial court found Shanks was required to disclose all material adverse facts that she was aware of to the buyer, and that failing to do so constituted a breach of fiduciary duty.

Because the jury found Shanks and her brokerage liable, the trial court should also have awarded damages against them, the court of appeals said in sending the case back to the trial court. Source: realtor.org.


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