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British Columbia B.C. court rules in favour of buyer who walked away from real estate deal over fatal shooting on property

The Vancouver home at the center of a lawsuit after a buyer walked away from the deal after learning of a murder on the property. (Ben Nelms/The Globe and Mail)

BEN NELMS

A woman who failed to disclose to the buyer of her house the shooting death of her son-in-law outside the family’s Vancouver home has lost a lawsuit she filed against the purchaser, who walked away from the $6-million deal when she learned about the crime.

Mei Zhen Wang listed the six-bedroom home – with 10 bathrooms – in Vancouver’s prosperous Shaughnessy neighbourhood for sale in 2009, telling a prospective buyer that she was selling because her granddaughter had moved to a school in the nearby city of West Vancouver.

But she did not explain the underlying reason for the move: The girl’s father, who was alleged to be a member of a gang known as the Big Circle Boys, was gunned down outside the property two years earlier.

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When the buyer, Feng Yun Shao, learned of the killing, she cancelled the sale and demanded her deposit back, prompting Ms. Wang to sue.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Pearlman concluded Ms. Wang offered an “incomplete” explanation for selling the home

“The question at the core of this dispute is whether the failure of the vendor to disclose the unsolved murder of an occupant of the property, which occurred almost two years before the sale, entitled the buyer to refuse to complete the purchase, and to recover her deposit,” Justice Pearlman wrote in a ruling issued on Monday.

Justice Pearlman described the given reason for sale of the property as “false representation by omission,” noting that the granddaughter’s move to West Vancouver was directly connected to the killing.

“The death was a factor in the plaintiff’s decision to sell the property,” the judge wrote.

Justice Pearlman ordered the return of Ms. Shao’s deposit, as well as damages of $4,040.44.

Ms. Shao was born and educated in China, where she was an entrepreneur with a retail clothing business. She moved with her husband and three daughters to Canada in 2007 as a landed immigrant.

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Ms. Wang, 84, emigrated from China to Canada in 2004 with her late husband. She had testified during the trial that one of her daughters, Gui Ying Yuan, purchased the property, on her behalf, for $3.7-million in 2003. Ms. Wang and her husband eventually joined Ms. Yuan’s family as residents of the 9,018-square-foot property.

Ms. Yuan was married to Raymond Huang. They had two children.

On Nov. 3, 2007, Mr. Huang, a businessman whose enterprises included a trucking company and restaurant, was shot outside the front gate to the property and died on the sidewalk there.

Ms. Yuan, in testimony, denied her husband was a member or leader of an organized crime group called the Big Circle Boys, saying he was a businessman.

Ms. Wang said twice during cross examination that she did not understand the question of whether her son-in-law was a member of the Big Circle Boys. Justice Pearlman described her response as “evasive.”

Yet, media reports linking Mr. Huang to organized crime prompted the private school of one of Ms. Wang’s granddaughters to ask that the child be removed. Ms. Yuan said that, but for her husband’s killing, her daughter would have remained at the school.

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Ms. Yuan and her children moved out in the summer of 2008, though she denied she had any concerns about her safety.

Yet her mother said, in an earlier examination for discovery, that she was concerned about the safety of her family members, who were living at the property.

The family said they tried to sell the house because Ms. Wang had relocated to China and had no plans to return to Canada, and Ms. Yuan’s daughter had passed the entry exam for a private school in West Vancouver.

In 2009, Ms. Wang agreed to sell Ms. Shao the home for $6.1-million.

Ms. Shao did not ask, ahead of purchasing the property, whether any deaths had occurred at or near the property. However, she learned of the death in September of 2009 through a friend and her husband found more material through a Google search.

When the sale failed to go through, Ms. Wang launched a suit seeking the deposit of $300,000 and additional charges of $338,000.

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