In Duncan v. The McCaffrey Group, Inc. (filed October 28, 2011) 2011 DJDAR 15875, plaintiffs bought from defendants residential lots in a tract marketed as Treviso Custom Home Development. Plaintiffs claim they bought in the development, paying premium prices, because of its marketing as an exclusively custom home development; instead, defendants, unbeknownst to plaintiffs, intended to build smaller tract homes on some of the lots .The matter came before the Fresno County Superior Court on defendants' demurrers and motion for summary adjudication. On the issues that are the subject of this appeal, the trial court sustained the demurrers and granted summary adjudication on the basis that the parol evidence rule precluded plaintiffs from establishing facts supportive of their claims. The Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, reversed.
Defendants took the position that plaintiffs' allegations in question could not be considered because they contradicted the terms of the lot sales agreements and the CC&R's that included giving the developer the right to build different types of residences. Under the parole evidence rule, argued defendants, the integrated agreement on each lot was the final expression of the terms of the agreement.
On their causes of actions for unfair competition and false advertising, the plaintiffs successfully argued to the appellate court that these claims did not contain allegations that required proof that would vary, alter or add to the terms of a written agreement. Rather than argue the terms of the agreement, each plaintiff alleged he or she was mislead by and reasonably relied upon false advertising.