A Jacksonville jury initially delivered a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff in this real estate deal gone-awry litigation involving claims of negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations. The jury found that the Seller (defendant) of the Mayport commercial property failed to properly disclose to the buyer (Plaintiff) that a large portion of the property in question (176 x 18 feet) was the subject of a pending boundary dispute with the seller’s neighbor. The jury found that the buyer reasonably relied on the seller’s representations that the neighbor’s claims on the disputed area were completely bogus, despite the fact that the buyer completed its own independent investigation and survey of the property prior to closing. Apparently, the buyer’s survey had failed to reveal the disputed property lines. The buyer did not confirm the veracity of the seller’s neighbor’s claims until after closing and the actual boundaries of the property rendered it wholly unsuitable for the buyer’s business.
Despite the jury verdict in favor of the buyer, the Trial Court entered a judgment in favor of the seller. The Trial Court was persuaded to follow case law from other jurisdictions suggesting that the buyer did not legally rely on the seller’s representations regarding the property boundaries since he had conducted his own independent investigation prior to closing (i.e., the survey). On appeal, the First DCA declined to follow this line of reasoning and remanded with instructions to enter judgment consistent with the jury verdict. The Appellate Court found that the Buyer did in fact receive false information from the seller regarding the actual boundaries and that the seller should not be absolved from liability because the buyer’s reasonable investigation of the property did not discover the misrepresentation.
Specialty Marine & Industrial Supplies, Inc. v. Bahram Venus, et al.