CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Supreme Court has overturned a judgment in favor of former West Virginia University Rich Rodriguez, who was sued by the buyer of his Morgantown home.

The court’s opinion, filed Nov. 9, says the Weirton attorney who bought Rodriguez’s home for $1.3 million should be allowed to develop evidence for his claims.

The decision overturns a 2011 summary judgment ruling in favor of Rodriguez, who resigned as the Mountaineers’ coach in 2007 to take the head coaching job at the University of Michigan. He now coaches at the University of Arizona.

Raymond Hinerman’s lawsuit stems from water damage done to a storage room in the basement. It was disclosed to him after he signed the purchase agreement but before the closing of the sale.

The Monongalia Circuit Court ruled the claims were without merit because Hinerman knew of the water leak prior to the closing of the sale.

The Supreme Court remanded the case for discovery.

In their complaint, Raymond and Barbara Hinerman said they signed a purchase agreement for the home located in Greystone Estates for $1.3 million and were ready to close on the property on Dec. 20, 2010. The sellers asked for that closing to be moved to Dec. 22, and the buyers agreed.

On Dec. 21, the Realtor for the Rodriguezes advised the Hinermans that a room they previously hadn’t been able to inspect — because it was full of children’s toys and, on one occasion, the door wouldn’t open — had suffered a water leak. On the final inspection on Dec. 22, there were ongoing attempts to dry out the “strong musty smell and obvious water leak.”

The Hinermans said all sales documents, including the deed, were at the Realtor’s office and ready for the closing when the Rodriguezes’ attorney called “stating that there would be no sale until the buyers signed a document accepting full responsibility for the leak and its consequences.”
The Hinermans refused to sign the document and “demanded the sale proceed and tendered the full purchase price to the Realtor.” Later, in a phone conversation with the Rodriguezes’ counsel, Hinerman said he was told the sellers “were unilaterally continuing the closing until sometime before Dec. 31, 2010.”

The Hinermans argued that the leak and damages were not their responsibility and that the Rodriguezes should fix it. The Rodriguezes refused, and the closing had not been reset at the time of the filing on Dec. 27.

The Hinermans said the Rodriguezes were creating an anticipatory breach of contract. They also said the Rodriguezes were “aware of another buyer willing to pay more than the contracted sale price.”

Also, the Hinermans claimed that a Four Winds boat would be given to them with the purchase of the home. But after signing the purchase agreement, they said the Rodriguezes then said the boat would cost roughly an extra $40,000.

The Hinermans sought to enjoin the Rodriguezes from selling the property to any other persons and to convey it to them for the agreed sale price without any pre-conditions. They also wanted to resolve the issue of who has responsibility for the repair of the leak and its damages. They also wanted a special commissioner appointed to do what sellers are ordered to do should they not immediately do so. And they wanted compensatory and punitive damages as well as other relief including attorney fees, court costs, inconvenience, mental stress and loss of productive time.

On Dec. 30, 2010, the Rodriguezes asked the court to dismiss the Hinerman complaint and to deny the motion for injunctive relief. They said the purchase agreement states, “It is understood that this property is being sold ‘as is’ and seller will make no repairs.”

The Rodriguezes said they compromised the sale price to allow a cushion with which the buyers could make repairs if necessary.

The Monongalia court found that in this case, the Rodriguezes did disclose the defect — the water leak — prior to the Hinermans’ purchase of the propoerty.

The Monongalia court said an inspection after the disclosure would have provided the Hinermans the opportunity to withdraw from the purchase of the property had they desired to do so.

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