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Wife can’t perform ‘spousal duties’ after fall at home showing: Suit

10/22/2019

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A California couple is suing Keller Williams, HomeSmart International and two local real estate agents after the wife was injured after tripping on a patio while viewing a home, allegedly leaving her unable to “perform normal spousal duties for her husband.”

Marc and Lisa Primeau, of Riverside County, California, visited the home in the coastal community of San Clemente, California, on Oct. 14, 2017, according to a complaint filed last week with the Superior Court of California. The complaint describes the couple as prospective buyers, and states that agent Leticia Vaccaro showed the home.

However, while viewing the home, Lisa was walking on a “rock and stone covered patio in the backyard” when she lost her footing and fell.

“Plaintiff fell back down the steps suffering serious bodily injury,” the lawsuit alleges.

Among other things, the suit states that Lisa suffered pain, humiliation, mental suffering, emotional distress, disability and disfigurement, and financial burdens related to medical costs and loss of earnings. The lawsuit also states that prior to the fall, Lisa was “an able bodied individual capable of normal relations with and able to perform normal spousal duties for her husband.”

Falling on the steps at the San Clemente home changed that, according to the suit.

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“She has been unable to engage in normal relations with and perform normal spousal duties for her husband,” the complaint continues. It adds later that Marc also “believes that he will in the future be further damaged as a result of said loss of consortium.”

The Primeaus believe that all of this was avoidable, and that the agents and real estate firms involved in the listing should have “taken measures to protect against the dangerous conditions.” The complaint specifically mentions a lack of railing for the patio steps, “surprise steps” that weren’t visible, and the fact that the people involved in showing the house could have offered a warning about the uneven surface.

The complaint ultimately argues that the various defendants “had actual knowledge of the existence of the dangerous condition on the property and knew or should have known about its dangerous character.”

The Primeaus are suing both Vaccaro, her brokerage HomeSmart Evergreen Realty, and franchisor HomeSmart International. (HomeSmart Evergreen Realty is a franchise.)

The lawsuit also names listing agent Michelle Fry as a defendant, along with her team and brokerage, Keller Williams.

The Primeaus have included Amy Reinhart as a defendant as well. The complaint does not state exactly what role Reinhart played nor does it describe her as an agent, merely saying that she showed the home along with Vaccaro.

However, at least some of defendants did not appear to have been notified about the case prior to this week. In an email to Inman Tuesday, HomeSmart International said that it “has not been served with any lawsuit related to this matter and, aside from the article, is unaware of the underlying facts pertaining to any such lawsuit.”

Fry also told Inman via an email Tuesday that she was previously unaware of the case. And Keller Williams declined to comment, citing company policy on litigation.

An attorney for Primeaus did not respond to Inman’s repeated requests for comment.

Records for the property, cited by Redfin, indicate the house initially went under contract the same day the Primeaus visited it. That sale apparently fell through, though, and the home bounced on and off the market several times before finally selling in March 2018 for $735,000.

Photos from the listing show a terraced and landscaped backyard with stone steps leading down to a lawn.

However, the lawsuit ultimately asks for undisclosed monetary damages to cover the costs of the case, interest, injuries and the “loss of consortium.”

Update: This post was updated after publication with new information regarding the responses of HomeSmart International, Fry, and Keller Williams. It was also corrected to reflect that HomeSmart International is the franchisor of HomeSmart Evergreen, rather than the parent company.

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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