There’s a scene in the original Dirty Harry movie that resonated with me when I first saw it and that I am frequently reminded of in my practice of advising home inspectors. Clint Eastwood, as Inspector Harry Callaghan, is hustling against a deadline set by a lunatic serial killer, based on the Zodiac killer that plagued San Francisco in the early ‘70s. Along the way to his rendez-vous with the killer, Harry is accosted by some street toughs whom he handles methodically despite being outnumbered. They keep coming back for more, however. Finally, exasperated by their perseverance, he whips out the huge .44 Magnum, sticks it in the face of one relentless punk and says “You don’t listen, do you, Asshole?”

Recently, one of the home inspectors who participates in my ClaimIntercept had this unhappy experience. The inspector conducted the inspection in August and was accompanied by the client’s agent on his rounds. He reported his findings in the normal fashion and everyone seemed to be happy with the results.

The client did not move into the home until some four months later and when she did, she thought that she smelled gas upon entering the property. She called the local utility which confirmed a gas leak and there then ensued an epic effort on the part of both the client and the real estate agent to dragoon the inspector into paying for the needed repairs.

As I have written elsewhere on this site, I think that refunding inspection fees every time a client experiences a bad result is a very bad habit to develop. I told the inspector that not only should he not be ratifying this unreasonable client’s delusional notions of culpability but that neither should the real estate agent. So he told the agent that he was not going to pay because he was not responsible and that furthermore, she should not be paying anything either.

But this yenta was relentless. Multiple email correspondence to both the real estate agent and the inspector with ccs to attorneys. The real estate agent – who just wanted the whole thing to go away – was putting none-too-subtle pressure on the inspector to pay for part of the repair – to split it with her – or at least refund the inspection fee. Never mind that a. detection of gas leaks is not part of a home inspection and b. neither the inspector nor the real estate agent smelled gas at any point in the two-plus hours it took to conduct the inspection. Notwithstanding that, the real estate agent ended up paying part of the repair bill. But the inspector continued to stonewall.

Finally, the client sent the inspector an ultimatum that threatened legal action lest he fail to acquiesce to her preposterous demand.

So, I finally had to explain to her that the inspector would not be paying for her repairs for the very compelling reason that he was not responsible for their provenance; that, under those circumstances, her threat of legal action had no cognizable foundation; and that, if she persisted in pursuing that spectacularly foolish strategy, she would most assuredly ultimately wish that she had not. I call it the “Dirty Harry letter.”

Already a ClaimsAcademy Member? Log In Register for Joe’s FREE ClaimsAcademy Video Tips Protect Yourself with ClaimIntercept Joe’s Law and Disorder Seminar is Available Online! Receive a Perfected Pre-Inspection Agreement