Phillip Ballard (Broker) and Sue Tucker (Agent) told our client, Clint Michaelson, a young man moving to town to marry his local sweetheart, Missy Akers, not to worry about being out of town and buying a house. They issued him a contract in which they promised to be his fiduciary. They testified in April 2015, there was no higher duty under law that they could have undertaken for Clint. They arranged to have the termite company they use most of the time investigate to see if the soft spot int he floor was a broken joist or a sign of wood destroying organisms. Clint wanted to make sure the pest man could access the areas in question because the guy he hired said he could not. The agent assured Missy that Northwest Alabama Termite “always” goes into the crawl spaces. His fears were gone. Unfortunately, Mr. Ballard and Ms. Tucker swore in pre-trial testimony that they had no valid basis to how Northwest actually did inspections. Despite telling them they always inspected inside the crawlspaces, they had never watched and inspection. Ms. Tucker said her “factual basis” for the representation was that the inspector had never been successfully sued for sorry inspections – as far as she knows.
The home will need to be destroyed and rebuilt. The termite man, Doug Cook, who was called to the home when the floors started caving in as renovations started said the home was “dangerous” to inspect. He went int he crawlspace and as his shoulders or back hit joist, he said they broke apart.The owner of Northwest took the test to get a pest license in Alabama after taking a correspondence course over the internet. She has never been in the field, never watched any service of the company be performed in the six years she has owned the company. She does not even know what kinds of nozzles the company has to apply termite chemicals. As for a drill to make the holes through which the nozzle should be inserted – she testified she’d never seen one.
However, she did admit that the only thing she could think of to explain the fact that the home was dangerously destroyed by termites, fungus and powder post beetles was deceit. The real estate professionals agreed. Their primary vendor for termite services had been caught doing a deceitful inspection. What did Ballard Realty do? Its representatives testified it has been business as usual ever since. The case was featured on America Now – a syndicated news program.
Video of our entomologist’s inspecting a crawlspace properly here.
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