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Brokers have taken their lumps in court for failing to disclose known defects in residential property. Here was a case of a broker-purchaser holding his lawyer liable for not telling him something that brokers usually know. On Thursday, a Passaic County jury found that Frank Catania Sr., a prominent local lawyer and former assemblyman, was negligent in a real estate deal, leaving his purchaser client exposed to fines and repair costs. Realtor John Granata paid $148,000 for a commercial/residential property. It turns out the building needed costly repairs involving its windows, roof and fire alarms, prompting fines by the state Department of Community Affairs, says Granata’s attorney, Patrick Collins, a partner with Livingston’s Franzblau Dratch. Collins says Catania failed to get proof from the seller that the property did not have serious problems. But Catania, a partner with Catania & Harrington in Haledon, says that as a realtor, Granata was aware he was buying the property “as is.” “He was definitely familiar with doing this type of work,” Catania says, adding that Granata contributed to his own circumstances by failing to pay the mounting fines. Apparently the jury agreed in part. Granata sought $86,000 for fines and repair work, but the jury awarded only $12,000.

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