What happens if a potential home buyer visits an open house and is injured while looking around? Can the brokerage be responsible for the injuries?
That was a question recently decided by the Court of Appeal in Jacobs v. Coldwell Banker.
Mr. Jacobs attended an open house of a bank-owned property in Simi Valley. Coldwell Banker listed the house, which had an empty backyard swimming pool and diving board.
During the open house, Mr. Jacobs visited the backyard of the property. He stood on the diving board to try and get a good look whether the fence surrounding the backyard was easy to hop over from behind the property. While standing on the diving board, it snapped, catapulting Mr. Jacobs into the empty pool. He was seriously injured.
Mr. Jacobs sued Coldwell Banker for negligence, arguing that the diving board was a dangerous condition of property. The trial court dismissed his case, and the Court of Appeal affirmed.
The Court found that it was undisputed that Coldwell Banker had no notice that the diving board was defective. The brokerage included a warning on the MLS site advertising the home saying “please use CAUTION around the empty pool.” Thus, Coldwell Banker fulfilled its obligation to warn of the hazards of the empty pool; it had no duty to warn about a defective diving board that it did not know was defective.
The Court ruled that for the entirety of the case, Mr. Jacobs argued that the diving board was the dangerous condition. He could not avoid a summary judgment motion by now claiming the empty pool was the dangerous condition.
Open houses are a common occurrence in many neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles. Injuries suffered at an open house are highly fact-specific, so an attorney should be consulted for questions about your case.
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