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Gorol v. Myro Corp.

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, Sussex

April 5, 2019

WILLIAM and TERRI GOROL, Plaintiffs,
v.
MYRO CORPORATION d/b/a AMERISPEC INSPECTION SERVICES, Defendant,
v.
CAROLINE W. SCOTT Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff,
v.
HICKORY HILL BUILDERS, INC. Third Party Defendant/ Fourth Party Plaintiff,
v.
ACCM, INC. D/B/A PUROCLEAN Fourth Party Defendant.

          Submitted: March 12, 2019

          Dean A. Campbell, Esq., Attorney for Plaintiff.

          Colin m. shalk, Esq., Attormey For Hickory Hill.

          Justin P. Callaway, Esq, Attorney For Myro Corp.

          Jason W. Adkins, Esq., Attorney For Caroline Scott.

          ORDER ON MYRO CORPORATION'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          ALEX J. SMALLS, CHIEF JUDGE.

         The matter is before the Court on Defendant Myro Corporation's (hereinafter "Myro") Motion for Summary Judgment. The Plaintiffs, William and Terri Gorol, (hereinafter "Gorols") brought this action against seller Caroline W. Scott, (Defendant, Third Party Plaintiff) for failing to disclose property defects, and against Myro for negligence and breach of contract for failing to disclose material defects in the conditions of the property. Myro's response to the summary judgment motion allege that any recovery by Gorols is limited to $710.00, based on the terms of the contract and Delaware law.

         FACTUAL AND PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

         On July 31, 2015, the Gorols entered into an agreement of sale whereby they agreed to purchase real property at 533 Fairway Dr. in Bethany Beach, Delaware. The agreement of sale included an inspection contingency granting the Gorols the option of obtaining a professional inspection of the property. Gorols contracted with Amerispec Inspection Services to conduct a home inspection on the property prior to the purchase. Amerispec is a franchise operated and owned by Defendant Myro Corporation. On September 15, 2015, Amerispec performed a pre-settlement limited inspection of the property noting that the condition of the crawlspace and the crawlspace items were "satisfactory". Over the course of the contract, Amerispec performed three inspections of the crawlspace: two structural and one termite inspection. At no time did the inspection indicate there was any problem with crawlspace or any evidence which would warrant further investigation. The Gorols closed on the sale of the home on October 9, 2015. Subsequent to closing, the Gorols became aware that the crawlspace had a rotten floor, and the estimated repairs would cost approximately $29, 000.00.

         On December 14, 2016, the Gorols brought this action against Caroline Scott and Myro Corporation. The complaint includes actions for breach of contract and/or negligence against Myro Corporation. The complaint further alleges that Amerispec undertook the obligation to inspect the property and provide reliable inspection information regarding the condition of the property. It is further allege they breached the contract by failing to disclose material defects regarding the condition of the property. Plaintiffs seeks judgment in the amount $29, 000.00, interest, attorney's fees, cost, and any other relief the Court may find appropriate.

         In its motion dated September 20, 2018, Myro allege that should any liability arise on its part, it is limited to the "cost of services" as stipulated in the contract agreement. Myro maintains "the parties agreed to an unambiguous contractual provision which limit any damages related to claims for negligence or breach of contract to the cost of services provided."[1] Myro argues the single paragraph entitled "Limit of Liability" set forth in the inspection contract is conspicuous and clearly written. Moreover, the Gorols agreed to the same contract term on two separate occasions prior to purchasing the property.

         On October 23, 2018, the Gorols filed its response to Myro's motion for summary judgment. The Gorols' argument relies heavily on the well-established principle that contractual provisions that relieve a party from liability resulting from their own conduct are disfavored under Delaware Law. Moreover, unless it is proven after trial that the parties specifically addressed this issue and contemplated that the language used would protect the parties in the same circumstances, the limitation of liability provision is unenforceable. The Gorols argue that a question of fact exists in regards to the mindset of the parties at the time the contract was signed. The Gorols also allege that the contract provision is unconscionable and therefore invalid.

         On March 1, 2019, the Court conducted a hearing on the Motion. Following oral arguments, the Court took the matter under advisement. Both parties were afforded the opportunity to submit follow up written arguments regarding their relative positions.

         LEGAL ...


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