Lengyel v. Lint, No. 14620

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtMcHUGH
Citation167 W.Va. 272,280 S.E.2d 66
PartiesDavid F. LENGYEL and Cheryl K. Lengyel v. Walt LINT, d/b/a Walt Lint Realty, Walt Lint Realty, Inc., a West Virginia corporation, Ruth Ann Schreiner, Carl W. Costanzo and Bonnie E. Costanzo.
Decision Date30 June 1981
Docket NumberNo. 14620

Page 66

280 S.E.2d 66
167 W.Va. 272
David F. LENGYEL and Cheryl K. Lengyel
v.
Walt LINT, d/b/a Walt Lint Realty, Walt Lint Realty, Inc., a
West Virginia corporation, Ruth Ann Schreiner,
Carl W. Costanzo and Bonnie E. Costanzo.
No. 14620.
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
June 30, 1981.

Page 67

Syllabus by the Court

1. The essential elements in an action for fraud are: "(1) that the act claimed to be fraudulent was the act of the defendant or [167 W.Va. 273] induced by him; (2) that it was material and false; that plaintiff relied upon it and was justified under the circumstances in relying upon it; and (3) that he was damaged because he relied upon it." Horton v. Tyree, 104 W.Va. 238, 242, 139 S.E. 737 (1927).

2. "Even if the trial judge is of the opinion to direct a verdict, he should nevertheless ordinarily hear evidence and, upon a trial, direct a verdict rather than try the case in advance on a motion for summary judgment." Syl. pt. 1, Masinter v. Webco Co., 262 S.E.2d 433 (W.Va.1980).

Frankovitch & Anetakis and Robert M. Vukas, Weirton, for appellants.

McDermott & Bonenberger and Landers P. Bonenberger, Wheeling, for appellees Walt Lint, etc., et al.

Paula K. Silver, Follansbee, for appellees Carl W. Costanzo, et al.

McHUGH, Justice:

This action is an appeal by David F. and Cheryl K. Lengyel from an order of the Circuit Court of Brooke County, entered on July 24, 1978, granting motions for summary judgment made by the defendants, Walt Lint, d/b/a Walt Lint Realty, Inc., and Ruth Ann Schreiner, and Carl W. and Bonnie E. Costanzo. This appeal presents questions relating to an action for fraud arising from a real estate transaction and the appropriateness of summary judgment in such a case.

In March of 1977, Carl W. and Bonnie E. Costanzo orally contracted with Walt Lint Realty, Inc., to sell their home located on Patterson Drive in Follansbee, West Virginia. The Costanzos dealt with Ruth Ann Schreiner, an employee of the realty company.

[167 W.Va. 274] The Costanzos, in March of 1977, authorized Ms. Schreiner and Walt Lint Realty, Inc., to advertise their property in local newspapers. An advertisement was placed in the Weirton Daily Times. It said:

HAVE A THIRST FOR LUXURY? Truly a spacious home of superb design and quality. You will love it because it's so versatile, so comfortable and roomy with 3 bedrooms plus den with fireplace. Living room with beautiful burnt orange carpet and glass sliding doors to a covered porch that overlooks your own swimming pool. Kitchen with wood cabinets, built in range, oven, dishwasher, and refrigerator, double sinks and breakfast

Page 68

booth. Huge dining room. Two full baths one with corner tub. Beautiful entrance foyer with skylights. Two car attached garage, circuler (sic ) driveway entrance leading to this 95' X 35' Cedar siding ranch of 4 yrs. on one acre. $59,900 No. 303.

This advertisement came to the attention of the appellants, David F. and Cheryl K. Lengyel, on May 26, 1977. They made an appointment with Ms. Schreiner to view the property the following day. On May 27, 1977, Mrs. Lengyel viewed the property on two occasions. On the first occasion Ms. Schreiner showed the home to Mrs. Lengyel; on the second occasion Mrs. Lengyel returned with her husband, David, and the Costanzos showed them the home. That evening the Lengyels signed a Purchase-Sale Agreement.

The Lengyels moved into the home on July 8, 1977. The closing of the sale of the property was held on July 11, 1977. Eight days later, on July 19, 1977, the Lengyels notified all the defendants that they wanted to rescind the contract. The defendants refused to agree to a rescission of the contract. This civil action was then commenced on August 5, 1977, when the plaintiffs, David F. and Cheryl K. Lengyel, filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Brooke County naming Walt Lint, d/b/a Walt Lint Realty, Inc., and Ruth Ann Schreiner, and Carl W. and Bonnie E. Costanzo as defendants. The complaint, subsequently amended on November 10, 1977, alleged that the sale of the property had been procured by fraud and asked that the Circuit [167 W.Va. 275] Court of Brooke County award damages in the amount of one hundred thousand dollars, or, in the alternative, order a rescission of the contract.

Specifically, the complaint alleged that the advertisement in the Weirton Daily Times had been placed "falsely and fraudulently and with the intent to deceive and defraud" by Walt Lint Realty, Inc., Ruth Ann Schreiner and Carl W. and Bonnie E. Costanzo. The complaint further alleged that the Lengyels had "believed and relied" on the representations made in the advertisement and were induced thereby to enter into the Purchase-Sale Agreement. The complaint alleged that the advertisement contained five misrepresentations: (1) that the house was a "trailer with additions" and was not of "superb design and quality"; (2) that the house was a "trailer with additions" and not a "95' X 35' Cedar siding ranch"; (3) that the house was six, not four, years old; (4) that the lot upon which the house was located consisted of only .62 acres of land and not "one acre" as stated in the advertisement; and (5) that the house was not a "conventional home" as implied by the advertisement.

The complaint also alleged that, subsequent to the signing of the Purchase-Sale Agreement but prior to the closing of the sale, further oral misrepresentations were made by the defendants to the plaintiffs when the Lengyels raised questions regarding the construction of the home. Four specific misrepresentations were alleged in this regard: (1) that the residence was constructed in a good, substantial and conventional manner; (2) that the residence was in fact located on one acre of ground; (3) that the residence was not a trailer but a conventional home; and (4) that the residence did match the description in the advertisement. The complaint alleged that the defendants made the above misrepresentations either knowingly or in reckless disregard of the truth and that the plaintiffs, relying on these further misrepresentations, went through with the transaction. The defendants, by answer, denied all the material allegations of the complaint.

The defendants filed motions for summary judgment on January 24, 1978. The motions for summary judgment were [167 W.Va. 276] argued on June 1, 1978. An order was entered on July 24, 1978, granting the defendants' motions and dismissing the plaintiffs' claim with prejudice. From that order the plaintiffs filed a petition for an appeal with this Court on March 19, 1979. The appeal was granted on September 13, 1979. The case was argued and submitted on April 19, 1981.

Page 69

On this appeal the appellants argue that there were genuine issues of material fact related to whether the defendants' representations were true or false, and the amount of knowledge held by the defendants about the truth or falsity of those representations, that should have precluded the trial court from disposing of the case on a motion for summary judgment. Appellees Walt Lint Realty, Inc., and Ruth Ann Schreiner argue that, as real estate agents 1 they did not owe any duty to the plaintiffs, or, in the alternative, that if they did owe a duty to the plaintiffs, that duty was not breached by their actions in this case and the circuit court's...

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165 practice notes
  • Marlin v. Bill Rich Const., Inc., No. 23121
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 19 February 1997
    ...is disfavored where development of the facts of a case is desirable so as to clarify the application of the law." Lengyel v. Lint, 167 W.Va. 272, 281, 280 S.E.2d 66, 71 (1981) (citation We, therefore, reverse the May 22, 1995 order of the Circuit Court of Wetzel County and remand this case ......
  • Heslep v. Americans for African Adoption, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:11CV56.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • 27 August 2012
    ...suffered injury as a result of the act. Ashworth v. Albers Med., Inc., 410 F.Supp.2d 471, 477 (S.D.W.Va.2005) (citing Lengyel v. Lint, 167 W.Va. 272, 280 S.E.2d 66, 67 (1981)). The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has consistently held that a fraud claim “must ordinarily be predica......
  • Powell v. Time Ins. Co., No. 18224
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 16 June 1989
    ...constitute fraud in this context. Our Page 349 traditional rule with regard to fraud is found in Syllabus Point 1 of Lengyel v. Lint, 167 W.Va. 272, 280 S.E.2d 66 "The essential elements in an action for fraud are: '(1) that the act claimed to be fraudulent was the act of the defendant or i......
  • STATE EX REL. ALLSTATE v. Madden, No. 31392.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 18 May 2004
    ...the exception to asserted matters of fraud should be limited to actual, [intentional] or criminal fraud. See Syl. Pt. 1, Lengyel v. Lint, 167 W.Va. 272, 280 S.E.2d 66 (1981) (holding that "[t]he essential elements in an action for fraud are: '(1) that the act claimed to be fraudulent was th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
165 cases
  • White v. National Steel Corp., Civ. No. 83-0059-W.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • 30 August 1989
    ...knowledge as to its truth or falsity, or makes it under circumstances such that he should have known of its falsity." Lengyel v. Lint, 167 W.Va. 272, 280 S.E.2d 66, 69 (1981). Constructive fraud, on the other hand, "is a breach of a legal or equitable duty, which, irrespective of moral guil......
  • Marlin v. Bill Rich Const., Inc., No. 23121
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 19 February 1997
    ...is disfavored where development of the facts of a case is desirable so as to clarify the application of the law." Lengyel v. Lint, 167 W.Va. 272, 281, 280 S.E.2d 66, 71 (1981) (citation We, therefore, reverse the May 22, 1995 order of the Circuit Court of Wetzel County and remand this case ......
  • Heslep v. Americans for African Adoption, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:11CV56.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • 27 August 2012
    ...suffered injury as a result of the act. Ashworth v. Albers Med., Inc., 410 F.Supp.2d 471, 477 (S.D.W.Va.2005) (citing Lengyel v. Lint, 167 W.Va. 272, 280 S.E.2d 66, 67 (1981)). The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has consistently held that a fraud claim “must ordinarily be predica......
  • Powell v. Time Ins. Co., No. 18224
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 16 June 1989
    ...constitute fraud in this context. Our Page 349 traditional rule with regard to fraud is found in Syllabus Point 1 of Lengyel v. Lint, 167 W.Va. 272, 280 S.E.2d 66 "The essential elements in an action for fraud are: '(1) that the act claimed to be fraudulent was the act of the defendant or i......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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