The McCollams entered into a contract to purchase Cahill's property on the outskirts of Mobridge, South Dakota. South Dakota law requires sellers of residential real estate to fill out a property conditions form prior to sale. The disclosure form is set forth by statute and contains over 90 questions concerning the lot or title, structural information, system/utilities information, hazardous conditions, and miscellaneous information. One question on the form that Cahill filled out was, "Are there any other problems that have not been disclosed above?" The McCollams contend that Cahill was required to disclose that there had been snakes in the house and around the property and they sued him for rescission based on fraud. They testified that they had found two bull snakes in the house within the first weeks after moving in. They also testified to several other bull snakes found in the garage and around the house during the following months. They and several other witnesses testified to seeing snakes on the property when Cahill lived there. Cahill presented testimony from multiple witnesses that few, if any, snakes were seen on the property while Cahill owned it. After receiving evidence from both parties, the court determined that during the 30 plus years that Cahill owned the property, Cahill only discovered one snake in the house. The court also determined that McCollams only saw two snakes in the house and that some snakes were seen in the yard in 2006. Did Cahill have the duty to disclose the presence of the snakes?

  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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