Monday, September 4, 2017

Word of the month for September 2017: Concealment

Tell the truth
Have you ever been in an auto accident and tried to tell the police what happened.  Problem is that there is your story, the other guy's story, and all the witnesses version(s) of what happened.  Everyone has their take on what is the true and correct version of what happened. 

The question, then, is what is truth? Back when I was in law school, I'd piss everyone off discussing "truth" and the sheer fallacy of it. For those who didn't go to law school, truth is pretty cut and dried, black and white. For those who possess a legal mind, truth is whatever you want it to be. Truth is subjective and belongs to whomever has the better argument.

Take, for example the couple who was in my library a while back.  Seems they were of the religious type and were particularly skittish about things relating to the occult (i.e. voodoo, witchcraft, and dead bodies). Seems, they had been in the market to buy a house and in the course of their looking, they found the house of their dreams.  Broker/seller knows of their fears (i.e. dead bodies and such) and doesn't bother to tell them about the previous owner who had hanged himself in the master bedroom.  Oppsy.

This all brings us to our word of the month: CONCEALMENT.  According to Black's Law Dictionary, CONCEALMENT is defined as:
The act of preventing disclosure or refraining from disclosing; esp., the injurious or intentional suppression or nondisclosure of facts that one is obliged to reveal; cover-up. Concealment is an affirmative act intended or known to be likely to keep another from learning of a fact of which he would otherwise have learned.  Such affirmative action is always equivalent to a misrepresentation and has any effect that a misrepresentation would have.  Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 160 (1979).
Of course, Broker/seller says that he didn't hide anything and that he hadn't "prevented" couple from finding out anything - he just didn't tell them the one tinsy, little thing that might have soiled the deal.  

As Broker/seller noted, couple could have easily asked around town to find out this "little" detail.  Really? You expect strangers in a strange town to ask strangers about dead bodies in a house they're looking to buy?  How would they even know to ask? Aren't you their advocate in the sale?!? Don't you have a fiduciary duty to disclose pertinent facts relating to the criteria laid out by your clients?  I mean, those would be the questions I'd ask if he were my Broker.

Anyway, couple is not a little freaked out (knowing that a guy was found swinging in their bedroom) and want satisfaction. Knowing my collection as I do, I suggested they take a look at a couple of resources such as:
and off they were plotting their revenge, uh, I mean, case...against the Broker/seller.  

If ever you find yourself in a bind, know that your local county law Librarian has the skills to help you when you are down and out (or freaked out of your mind, as the case may be).