We ain't to blame!

Real Estate Agent with Wayne M Martin

Years ago I was the managing broker of a large real estate office with a national franchise affiliation. One of my agents listed a condominium with a tenant in place that's intended to be sold to an investor who would continue to lease the unit.

Along comes an agent who claims to represent investor interested in the unit. They submit an offer which was rejected. It was communicated to the agent, in writing, that the offer was too low to deserve a counter.

Selling agent communicates with his out of state investor that he has a deal! Buyer books passage to Florida with the idea he will inspect the unit and proceed to closing. He arrives to learn the real facts.

He sues on the theory our office should reimburse his travel expenses since he was unsuccessful in getting the unit. We go to mediation.

At the mediation our position was "we ain't to blame" since we have no relationship with the proposed buyer or have ever had any direct communication with him. Mediator thought it was his job to get the poor misinformed fellow something and hence if we did not agree he would suggest to the judge assigned that the parties settle the matter in litigation. (side note - it was the mediator's last mediation. He was let go after the case was decided).

Judge wants a conference with all parties before any formal litigation. We meet and present our side of the story. At this point we have legal counsel. Legal counsel states that if this goes any further he will ask the court for reimbursement by plaintiff of our legal costs as this is a frivolous lawsuit and presents case law to support his claim.

We go to trial and win. Judge rules plaintiff is responsible for our legal fees. Why? By now you might have guessed: "We were not to blame"! Sometimes common sense wins over nonsense. And when you are on the side of nonsense, it can be costly.

This is the third post for the March challenge sponsored by Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist and Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP. Thanks! 

Comments (12)

Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Wayne- Larry and his homebuilding company (big one) used to be sued all of the time. They thought that because it was one of the largest companies they would rather settle. The owner was not the kind to settle if he knew he was right! 

Good for you on getting the right thing done. 

Mar 15, 2023 12:58 PM
Wayne Martin

This incident involved a cocky agent who thought he had the upper hand. Our seller was equally hard headed and that was caused the problem. The mediator was an idiot and the judge initially was not much better. 

If you are in this business long enough, you see what should not be seen. Its aggravating but interesting.

Mar 15, 2023 01:39 PM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Estate Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Hello Wayne Martin - and thank God you got a judge with common sense that follows the law.  That is all I will say about that. 

No doubt the loser continues to feel like the victim and the law did not serve them. Too Bad. It did! 

Thank you for your third entry to the March Challenge. 

Mar 15, 2023 01:44 PM
Wayne Martin

Like the mediator, this judge did not last long. If the attorney had not found a little known case about frivolous law suits and fee recovery, he may have ruled against us

Mar 16, 2023 03:19 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Wayne Martin - Case law prevails! Love it! 

Selling Agent was completely incompetent. I wonder if he reimbursed his client for airfare and travel costs?

Mediator made a huge mistake! Mediator deserved to be fired. 

A great big lesson about why agents always put everything in writing, and to work for a very competent and credible Managing Broker!

Outstanding entry for the March Challenge by describing the scenario, who was involved, what happened, and how it was solved. 

Thank you for completing three excellent entries for the March to a Solution|ActiveRain March 2023 Challenge

Mar 15, 2023 03:04 PM
Wayne Martin

This was a senseless series of events. We had no contact with the proposed purchaser until the mediation. I will to say anything about the agent or his sponsoring broker to protect the guilty.

Mar 16, 2023 03:20 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Loved this post and the results, it annoys me that there are so many people who are just misinformed or well just plain ignorant.... on a side note I always tell my sellers no matter how bad the offer is to come back with a one-page counteroffer.... and it has served me well and kept me out of situations like you described, Endre

Mar 15, 2023 10:25 PM
Wayne Martin

If you saw the offer and a listing sheet, you would understand the circumstances. And with no relationship with the proposed buyer, he lacked standing to sue us. And, we got a judgment against him and a lien on his Florida property.

Mar 16, 2023 03:23 AM
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I am glad that it ended that way and he definitely should have to pay the legal fees for bringing up such a frivolous matter.

Mar 16, 2023 05:30 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

People are sue-happy, mediators are not always objective, and courts don't always make the right decisions. At least in this instance the last part wasn't true and the court made it right.

Mar 16, 2023 05:48 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

HI Wayne... that's one thing I've always liked about the British legal system... if you lose a nonsense law suit, you pay for the defendant's costs. That keeps those kinds of law suits to a minimum.

Mar 16, 2023 05:49 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Wayne - while it might not be the first word beginning with the letter I would use, frivolous was an appropriate one to describe this situation.  

Mar 16, 2023 06:54 AM
Wayne Martin

It was frustrating at the time, but when it was over the very idea was funny!

Mar 16, 2023 08:47 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Great post, Wayne Martin 

The "buyer" sued the wrong party. He should have sued his own agent.

Mar 16, 2023 08:54 AM
Wayne Martin


Mar 16, 2023 03:42 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

what a crazy scenario .. sounds like the plaintiff got more than he bargained for with having to pay for your legal expenses lol. Justice was served! 

Mar 16, 2023 10:05 AM
Jane Chaulklin-Schott
TEAMCONNECT REALTY - (407) 394-9766 - Orlando, FL
TeamConnect Luxury Homes - Orlando, Florida, 32836

And today, Wayne, society has got even more sue-happy.  I am amazed and dumbfounded on the happenings in our court system today and especially, politically.  Wayne, wish you well on your three entries in the March Challenge.

Mar 16, 2023 12:40 PM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

A honest judge is getting harder and harder to find Wayne Martin . Today the judges are more politicians then judges of the law.

Mar 16, 2023 07:12 PM