Home buyers thought they had sewer hook-up, suit says

Kelly Holleran Dec. 10, 2008, 9:00am

A Madison County couple claims they were led to believe land they bought was connected to a public sewer line and was rezoned as a business designation when it was not, according to a suit filed Dec. 5.

Cassie and Brian Johnson purchased a single family residence on 1301 U.S. Highway 40 in Highland on February 19, 2007, from Ronald and Janet Hunsche, states the suit filed in Madison County Circuit Court.

The Johnsons told Wayne Sackett, the Hunsches real estate agent who worked for Caldwell Banker Brown Realtors, they would not buy the property if it had a septic system, according to the complaint.

But when they sold the land, the Hunsches assured the Johnsons it was served by a public sewer system when in fact it was served by a septic system, the suit states.

The Hunsches also said there were no material defects with the plumbing system when they were aware of problems with it, the Johnsons allege.

Within two weeks after they bought the property, the Johnsons encountered an "enormous difficulty with the septic system on the property and in order to maintain the residence in a habitable condition, the Plaintiffs were forced to undergo and make substantial repairs to the system and were put to a great inconvenience during the course of those repairs," the suit states.

Sackett also told the Johnsons the property was closed to a favorable rezoning which would classify the property as a business designation, the Johnsons claim.

However, the property is not a business designation, so the Johnsons have been in jeopardy because they have been storing business equipment on their premises, according to the complaint.

The Hunsches breached their contract because they failed to provide true and accurate information regarding the condition of the property, according to the complaint.

They made material representations to the Johnsons in order to induce them to buy the house, the Johnsons claim.

"That the Defendant, Ronald Hunsche, knew that the misrepresentations expressed were material, and that the Plaintiffs would not have purchased the property if they had known that the representations of Defendant were false," the suit states.

In addition, the Hunsches, Sackett and Caldwell Banker Brown Realtors committed unfair and deceptive acts because they failed to market the property with accurate information, according to the complaint.

"That Defendants, Wayne Sackett and Donald W. Brown d/b/a Caldwell Banker Brown Realtors, failed to take reasonable steps to assure that the information contained in the listing of the real estate and other marketing materials was correct and accurate," the suit states.

Sackett and Caldwell Banker Brown Realtors breached their duty to the Johnsons because they failed to disclose the property contained a septic tank, was not connected to a public sewer system and was not being rezoned for business purposes, the couple claims.

In the 10-count suit, the Johnsons are seeking a judgment in excess of $500,000, plus costs, interest, attorneys fees and other relief the court deems just.

They are represented by John P. Geismann of Highland.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 08-L-1145.

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