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Justices hear arguments on sale of Rodriguez home

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. -- The state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in an appeal by a Weirton attorney and his wife who sued former West Virginia University football coach Rich Rodriguez and his wife for fraud.

The dispute began in 2010 when Raymond and Barbara Hinerman agreed to purchase the Cheat Lake home from Rich and Rita Rodriguez for about $1.3 million.

Shortly before the sale, Rita Rodriguez discovered a water leak in one of the basement rooms. After the purchase was made, the Hinermans filed suit, claiming the leak and the damage it caused had not been fully disclosed and had been fraudulently concealed from them.

Monongalia Circuit Judge Phillip Gaujot ruled in favor of the Rodriguez family. He determined that the leak and damage was disclosed and that the Hinermans purchased the property anyway.

Gaujot also ruled that the contract signed by the parties provided the home would be sold "as is." He found the Hinermans had full knowledge of the leak and damage and could have backed out of the contract if they had wanted to.

Hinerman, representing himself and his wife at West Virginia Wesleyan College on Tuesday, told justices the case shouldn't have been dismissed.

He argued that the purchase agreement's "as is" language applied at the time the contract was signed and that the damage occurred later.

Hinerman contended that he and his wife did inspect the property themselves, but the room with the leak was filled with toys and not available for inspection.

Gary Wigal, the lawyer for the Rodriguez family, told the justices his clients had done nothing wrong and that the Hinermans had full knowledge of the problem before they purchased the home.

He also told the court that the Hinermans had the option to obtain a professional inspection of the home, and since they declined to do so, they gave up any right they may have had to have repairs completed.

Justice Margaret Workman pointed out that "as is" contract language is not often used in real-estate transactions.

"I can probably see why the judge ruled against you," she told Hinerman.

Rodriguez, a Marion County native, left his job abruptly as football coach at WVU in December 2007 to become head coach at the University of Michigan. He was fired there after three years, and is now in his first season as head football coach at the University of Arizona.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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