A couple of years ago, Lady Agag (my lovely wife) and I were invited to a cocktail party that was being held at a restaurant in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. The restaurant was actually closed that evening to all but those who had been invited to the party. The hosts of the party had “won” it by outbidding others at a silent auction to benefit Norwood-Fontbonne Academy, the private Catholic grade school that our two boys had attended.

Because of that provenance, the guests were, by and large, well-established inhabitants of the middle-class with a vast over-representation of lawyers. Lady A and I, about fifteen years senior to the gathering’s statistical mode, were clearly skewing the assemblage geezerish. Nevertheless, due to our surpassing young-at-heartness and preternatural gregariousness, we were warmly received by our fellow guests.

I was introduced to a couple, whose male component I had been reliably informed, was also a lawyer. After establishing that I was a colleague, he asked me what sort of law I practiced. My spontaneous response surprised even me.

“I’m a cult figure in a niche industry” I answered. It was a response that not only has the twin attributes of being both whimsical and accurate, but absolutely mandates explication.

Here it is.

The day before Thanksgiving in 2006, I received a call from a home inspector in Florida who had just received a home inspection claim demand letter from an attorney representing one of his clients that was seeking damages from an inspection that he had conducted some 22 months before. He wanted to know what to do.

I asked him if he had home inspection insurance. He said that he now had it but did not have it then. He then asked if this was something that I could handle or did he need to get a lawyer in Florida. My mind reeled at the thought of this inspector having to seek an attorney in Florida at random, explain to him exactly what a home inspection is – and isn’t – and then explain why he was not responsible for the claimed damages. So I said “Why don’t you send me the demand letter together with your pre-inspection agreement and your inspection report? After I review those documents, I’ll be in a better position to advise you.” So he did.

I got the documents the day after Thanksgiving. After reading the attorney’s letter, which was rather substantial and included a supporting report by a subsequent inspection company, I noted all of the issues that his client was aggrieved by.

I then took up the inspector’s original report to read and began to experience déjà vu all over again. Every issue that the claimant was complaining about had been pointed out by the inspector in his report.

I was incredulous and called the inspector and said “This is unbelievable. Everything that they’re complaining about, you found!!” He said, “I know.”

So I suggested that he let me write a responsive letter to the attorney delineating the myriad of reasons that the inspector was not responsible. I told that I would run the letter by him. If he liked the letter, I would send it out and charge him for my time accordingly. If he didn’t like the letter, I would not charge him and he could find his own attorney in Florida.

The home inspector loved the response that I had written and it went out on December 1, 2006. We never heard from that attorney again. Following that success, I began to hear from home inspectors all over the country asking for my help in responding to the ridiculous demands that were being made upon them by former clients.

Over 700 claims later, I am batting .970 at terminating them with just a responsive letter. This is a valuable piece of home inspector training.

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