The North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals today in a case involving a claim of negligent misrepresentation over a realtor’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listing.
The Plaintiffs had purchased a home thinking it was connected to the city sewer system. That’s what the MLS listing said. That was wrong, the home actually had a septic tank, which repeatedly overflowed after the purchase.
Plaintiffs won a jury verdict, but the Court of Appeals reversed. The basis for the reversal was that the version of the MLS listing given to the Plaintiffs was not the same version as put on the service by the Defendant real estate brokers. The Defendants’ listing stated "Information deemed RELIABLE but not GUARANTEED." The version seen by the Plaintiffs did not have this language.
The Court of Appeals majority in Crawford v. Mintz, 653 S.E.2d 222 (N.C. App. 2007) held that "a buyer cannot demonstrate reliance on a representation made in an MLS listing unless that buyer relied on a version of the MLS listing containing the same qualifying language as was originally entered by the listing agent."
The Supreme Court’s reversal was based on Judge Steelman’s dissent. He reasoned that the absence of the qualifying language "rather goes to the question of whether the plaintiffs relied upon the MLS listing, and whether any reliance was justifiable. It was for the jury to determine the credibility of the witnesses, and the weight to be given to the evidence."
The Supreme Court didn’t write much of an opinion, it ruled Per Curiam, stating only that it was "reversing for the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion."
There were other several other rulings from the Supreme Court today, you can find them here.