Buying property contaminated with asbestos can be an extremely dangerous and costly experience for residents of North Carolina and elsewhere. In one recent instance, property purchasers filed a lawsuit claiming that they were tricked and defrauded by the prior owners into buying property laced with the toxic substance, failing to disclose its known presence.
While a lawsuit for premises liability to recover some of the damages after the harm is done can be important, the conduct the original property owners are alleged to have engaged in is simply unacceptable.
The buyers of the property say that the owners actively acted to conceal the presence of the asbestos on the grounds, as well as not telling them that they were renting out the premises. They reportedly went so far as to even collect rent from tenants after they sold the property and no longer owned it.
Contact with asbestos in housing or in the workplace can be deadly, and can cause a host of respiratory diseases and types of cancer that only show up years later. Removal of asbestos can be very complicated and costly, and must be carried out under strict safety protocols to be accomplished properly. Given all that, it is clear that owners who sell property that they know or have reason to believe is contaminated with asbestos have a legal and moral obligation to disclose its presence there, so that potential purchasers can make an informed decision, aware of all potential problems and costs.
In the immediate lawsuit, the plaintiffs are asserting claims for breach of contract, conspiracy to commit fraud, and fraud. They are seeking an award of money damages, along with their court costs and legal fees. In some cases, plaintiffs can ask that a sale of property be rescinded on the basis of fraud.
Source: Ultimate Clear Lake, “Pasadena property buyers sue over asbestos contamination,” Glenna Herald, Aug. 9, 2012