Where plaintiff could have discovered fire damage to her home by simply moving the refrigerator or looking in the HVAC return, the statute of limitations on her misrepresentation claims was not tolled under the discovery rule of the doctrine of fraudulent concealment.
In Eldridge v. Savage, No. M2016-01373-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 29, 2017), plaintiff purchased a home from defendant in 1994. At the time, defendant told plaintiff that the home had been damaged by a fire started by the previous occupants, and plaintiff noticed “that the home’s kitchen cabinets were caramel color due to being heat scorched, and observed that the home had at least one burnt floor joist in the basement.” Plaintiff also had the home inspected by a professional home inspector at the time of the purchase.
After living in the home for 16 years, one of plaintiff’s children developed respiratory issues, which eventually led doctors to recommend that plaintiff clean the home with bleach in case environmental conditions were causing the child’s issues. During this cleaning, plaintiff discovered that the home had “extensive fire damage behind the refrigerator, behind the cabinets, in the walls, and charred flooring was also discovered beneath the linoleum that [defendant] installed.” Plaintiff further found that “the HVAC return was filled with soot.”