Now Accepting New Clients!

REAL ESTATE 68: Holding that plaintiffs-buyers’ allegations of fraud in this case arising from the sale of a residence did not preclude the trial court from granting defendants’ motion for summary disposition based on a release, the court affirmed.

This cause of action arises from plaintiffs’ purchase of a residence from defendant, who had rights in the house under a land contract from co-defendant, the legal owner of the house. Before the house was for sale, in January 2018, an upstairs waterline froze and cracked, causing water damage to the ceiling and drywall in parts of the house. An insurance claim was made resulting in a third party renovating the residence. The renovations were completed in July 2018. In September 2018, plaintiffs offered to purchase sellers’ house contingent on the sale of plaintiffs’ house. Two months after closing, plaintiffs had a second inspection performed on the residence that allegedly revealed hidden water damage, improper repairs, mold, and evidence of narcotic use or manufacture throughout the residence. Plaintiffs sued defendants, alleging defendants committed fraud and misrepresentation in the sale of the residence.   In response, defendants filed a motion for summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(7), arguing plaintiffs released defendants from liability and further, that defendants indicated prior major damage to the residence, and afforded plaintiffs every opportunity to inspect the residence. Pertinent to this appeal, plaintiffs filed a response to defendants’ motion for summary disposition, arguing that questions of fact existed as to whether defendants obtained the release by fraud. The trial court held a hearing on defendants’ motion for summary disposition and granted summary disposition to defendants under MCR 2.116(C)(7), finding the signed release barred plaintiffs from bringing a claim against defendants regarding any issues related to the residence. This appeal ensued.


This Court reviews de novo a trial court’s decision regarding a motion for summary disposition. Under MCR 2.116(C)(7), “[e]ntry of judgment, dismissal of the action, or other relief is appropriate because of release . . . of the claim before commencement of the action.” On appeal, plaintiffs argue that the trial court erred in finding the release signed by plaintiffs operated as a bar to recovery because defendants procured the release through fraud. It is well-settled that a cause of action may be barred, under MCR 2.116(C)(7), where a valid release of liability exists between the parties. “A release of liability is valid if it is fairly and knowingly made.” “The validity of a release turns on the intent of the parties.” “If the text of the release is unambiguous, the parties’ intentions must be ascertained from the plain, ordinary meaning of the language of the release.” However, we do concur with plaintiffs’ general view of the law that under some circumstances, a release may be invalid if it was procured by fraud or a misrepresentation was made with the intent to mislead or deceive. This Court held that language releasing defendants from liability for “any and all” causes of action was sufficiently broad to bar a claim for fraud. Here, plaintiffs released defendants “from all liability.” Such language is sufficiently broad enough to operate as a complete bar to recovery, including claims for fraud.  In addition, plaintiffs’ arguments are unpersuasive because they fail to produce any evidence of fraud or fraudulent inducement. Our analysis could end there; however, although not directly argued in their brief on appeal, we consider whether the facts presented to the trial court sanction a claim of fraud based on obligations arising under the Seller Disclosure Act, MCL 565.951 et seq., because plaintiffs alleged defendants failed to disclose the severe flood damage, repair work, mold issues, and history of use or manufacture of narcotics in the house, and a fire on the property in 2010. In addition, plaintiffs argue co-defendant advised sellers not to disclose the flooding damage to plaintiffs. Again, though not directly argued on appeal, these accusations could potentially create a cause of action for fraudulent misrepresentation. The Seller Disclosure Act imposes a legal duty on sellers to disclose to buyers the existence of certain known conditions affecting the house. MCL 565.957(1). An “as is” clause in the purchase agreement does not preclude liability on the basis of fraud. Again, the record is devoid of any documentary evidence that supports any claim of fraudulent misrepresentation. While the record reveals that the sellers represented on the SDS that the basement had no “evidence of water” and there were no “[s]ettling, flooding, drainage, structural, or grading problems[,]” it also indicated there had been “[m]ajor damage to the property from fire, wind, floods, or landslides[.]” Hence, we cannot conclude there exists a misrepresentation within the SDS because sellers disclosed the house had incurred major damage from fire, wind, floods, or landslides, and because plaintiffs were allowed an unfettered opportunity to inspect the property to determine the nature and extent of the damage. “[T]here can be no fraud where the means of knowledge regarding the truthfulness of the representation are available to the plaintiff and the degree of their utilization has not been prohibited by the defendant.”


Here, it is uncontroverted that plaintiffs were given an opportunity, and did inspect the residence prior to the closing, indicating their complete satisfaction and desire to move in immediately. Further, it is uncontroverted that plaintiffs released defendants “from all liability” and did so without any evidence of fraud, duress or coercion by defendants or anyone acting on their behalf. Hence, on this record, we conclude that the trial court properly granted summary disposition to defendants.


Are you involved in a real estate dispute in Michigan? Are you seeking resolution to a property litigation matter?

If you are facing a residential or commercial real estate issue, seek the advice of an experienced and skilled real estate litigation attorney at Aldrich Legal Services.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Speak to a Pro: (734) 404-3000


Michigan Expungement Law Updates For 2021

There has been a new laws regarding expungements for the state of Michigan.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that expands the criteria for expungements related to traffic offenses, marijuana convictions, and minor...

Wills and Trusts

Originally posted on: 02/14/2014 Aldrich Legal Service provides legal advice and representation for residents in Plymouth, Ann Arbor, and Southeast Michigan. We also review recent legal cases to examine what took place and what we can...

REAL ESTATE 65: Determining that it could not conclude the trial court erred in its factual findings, and that it did not err in reforming a 2005 deed, the court affirmed the ruling that defendants were fee simple owners of the disputed 50-foot area

This case arose from a real-property dispute between brothers, as well as their respective wives. After a bench trial, the trial court rendered its findings of fact. The trial court determined that plaintiffs did not prove that excluding the...

FAMILY LAW 58: The trial court did not err by denying defendant-father’s motion to change custody and modify his parenting time of the parties’ child without having an evidentiary hearing to determine if there was proper cause or a change in circums

This case arose from a custody and parenting-time dispute between plaintiff-mother and father over their minor child. After father failed to respond to the paternity complaint within the 21 days of receipt of the complaint, mother filed an affidavit...

DIVORCE 53: Although the court affirmed the trial court’s decisions to deny defendant’s motions to set aside the default and the default JOD, it vacated the portions of the default JOD as to the distribution of marital property, custody, parenting t

Plaintiff filed for divorce. Defendant filed an answer and a counterclaim for divorce.  Plaintiff and defendant were both ordered to appear at the settlement conference. After defendant failed to appear, the trial court entered a default. Soon...

FAMILY LAW 53: The trial court erred by treating the parties’ GAL as an LGAL and denying the parties the right to question her at a hearing; however, the trial court did not err in requiring the parties to compensate the GAL for her services.

Plaintiff and Defendant were never married, but share a young son who was born in 2016. The parties have battled over custody, child support, and other parenting issues ever since. In the spring of 2019, the parties filed competing motions to modify...

The Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary

Original Post: 1/11/2019 Often, burglary, robbery, and theft are used interchangeably even though there are distinct differences between all of them. Though, what all three do have in common is they may involve the unlawful taking of...

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000