Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michigan Seller Disclosure Act (SDA): Innocent Misrepresentation Not a Claim under SDA Rules Michigan Court of Appeals

Holding that innocent misrepresentation is not a viable theory of liability under the Seller Disclosure Act (SDA) (MCL 565.951, et seq), the Michigan Court of Appeals recently reversed a judgment awarding Plaintiffs $86,813 in damages and costs and remanded the case for entry of a judgment in favor of the Defendant-Sellers. Roberts v Saffell, ___ Mich App ___ (2008) (Lawyers Weekly No. 07-67463 - 12 pages) (published opinion) (Markey, J., joined by Wilder, J.) (White, J., dissenting). On appeal from the Leelanau County Circuit Court; Rodgers, J.. Click here for the slip opinion.

In this case, Plaintiffs asserted that Defendants failed to disclose a termite infestation in the home they purchased from Defendants. Prior to trial, Plaintiffs successfully moved for dismissal of all claims, except one for innocent misrepresentation. This claim was based on Defendants' "No" answer on their Seller Disclosure Statement in response to the item "History of infestation, if any: (termites, carpenter ants, etc.)"

The Court of Appeals found nothing in the plain terms of the act requiring a transferor of property covered by the SDA "to exercise ordinary care to discover defects in the property being transferred." The act requires a transferor "to answer all items required by MCL 565.957 honestly, based on information actually known to the transferor at the time the SDS is completed." Apart from the SDS, the Legislature had not modified the rule of caveat emptor and its common law exceptions imposing liability for fraud.

A transferor cannot "be held liable for any errors, inaccuracies, or omissions in the SDS unless they were within his personal knowledge." Since liability for innocent misrepresentation can be imposed "without regard to whether the party making the representation knew it was false or was acting in good faith and because MCL 565.955(1) precludes imposition of liability on transferors who lack personal knowledge with respect to errors, inaccuracies, or omissions in an SDS, there is no liability for a disclosure made on an SDS under a theory of innocent misrepresentation."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

VA Proposes New Rules to Increase Opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)

Veterans Administration (VA), Federal Acquisition Regulations: Supporting Veteran-Owned and Service- Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses, Proposed Rules, 73 Fed. Reg. 49141, August 20, 2008.

This proposed rule would implement portions of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 and Executive Order 13360, Providing Opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran Businesses to Increase Their Federal Contracting and Subcontracting. The Public Law and Executive Order authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish special methods for contracting with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) and veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs).

Under this proposed rule, a VA contracting officer could restrict competition in contracting for SDVOSBs or VOSBs under certain conditions. Likewise, sole source contracts with SDVOSBs or VOSBs would be permitted under certain conditions. The proposed rule would implement these special acquisition methods as a change to the VA Acquisition Regulation (VAAR).

Dates: Comments on the proposed rule should be submitted on or before October 20, 2008 to be considered in the formulation of the final rule.

Note: Thanks to Jerry Walz at PubKLaw.com for the heads-up on this announcement. For those of you who are involved in public contracting, especially federal procurement, Jerry's PubKLaw-Digest is an excellent resource. For a modest annual cost, you receive a daily newsletter updating all aspects of procurement law, and recent decisions from the various boards of contract appeals, and federal district and circuit courts. Highly recommended!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Avoiding Home Foreclosure in Michigan

Gary Nitzkin, who blogs at Michigan Collection Law Blog, recently posted an important article outlining a number of ways that homeowners can avoid losing their homes to foreclosure.

Gary's suggestions include (a) asking your lender about a Home Retention Program, (b) talking directly with the lender's Loss Mitigation Department, (c) considering a Forbearance Agreement, a Loan Modification, deed in lieu of foreclosure or (d) negotiating a pre-foreclosure short sale. Gary notes that there may be significant tax consequences to any agreement with the lender that involves forgiveness of debt.

To read Gary Nitzkin's post in its entirety, follow this link.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

AGC of Michigan Sponsors ConsensusDOCS Seminar

On Thursday, September 25, 2008, at 8:30 a.m., the AGC of Michigan will present ConsensusDOCS: A New United Voice for Construction Contracts at its office in Lansing. The session will run 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and includes a continental breakfast and seminar materials. Thomas M. Keranen, Kerenan & Associates, P.C. will be the featured speaker.

A registration form for this seminar can be found here.