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Fitt v. Schneidewind Realty Corp.

Decided: December 9, 1963.

RUSSELL A. FITT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SCHNEIDEWIND REALTY CORP., A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, AND HOWARD B. SCHNEIDEWIND, DEFENDANTS



Giuliano, J.s.c.

Giuliano

This is an action for real estate brokerage commissions and interest allegedly due plaintiff Russell A. Fitt (Fitt) as a result of the efforts made by plaintiff and his employee, William H. Decker (Decker), toward the sale of certain property by the Oiljak Manufacturing Co. (Oiljak) to Schneidewind Realty Corp. (Schneidewind). The cause was tried before the court without a jury.

Plaintiff is now, and was during the transactions complained of, a licensed real estate broker. About the middle of December 1960 William Taylor (Taylor), representing defendants, contacted Decker. Taylor requested on behalf of Schneidewind that Decker ascertain whether certain property owned by Oiljak was for sale and what the asking price was.

Decker then contacted the secretary of Oiljak, explaining that he had an inquiry about the property. The evidence revealed that the secretary was authorized to deal with all brokers interested in handling the property. Also, that there was no exclusive agency agreement nor was there a multiple listing to sell the property. Decker secured the necessary information,

including the plans of the buildings located on the specific property about which Taylor had inquired, and the price of the property. It was also testified to by Lester Vannan, president of Oiljak, that there were dozens of agents working on the sale of the property.

The information concerning the property was immediately transmitted to Schneidewind. Subsequent to the transfer of the requested information and prior to September 25, 1961, Decker was in contact with Schneidewind through Taylor and Howard B. Schneidewind, an officer of Schneidewind Realty Corp., on several occasions, estimated by Decker to be six or eight times, concerning the Oiljak property. On September 25, 1961 Howard B. Schneidewind contacted Decker at his office to inquire whether the Oiljak property was still for sale, the price, and whether Oiljak would divide the property for sale.

The following day Decker went to Schneidewind's office where he spoke to Taylor. Taylor asked for the same information requested by Howard B. Schneidewind the previous day. Decker gave the information to Taylor as requested.

In early October 1961 Taylor contacted Vannan and requested an appointment to discuss the purchase of the Oiljak property. An appointment was made and negotiations took place between Vannan for Oiljak and Taylor, and Howard B. Schneidewind for Schneidewind, for the purchase of the property. During these negotiations Vannan was told by Taylor and Howard B. Schneidewind, the representatives of Schneidewind, that no broker was involved in the transaction. Vannan testified that the absence of a broker and the necessity of having to pay a commission had the effect of lowering the price at which the property would be sold by Oiljak. Agreement was eventually reached for the sale of a portion of the property at a price of $145,000.

Sometime prior to the signing of the final agreement of sale Fitt and Decker met with Vannan and explained their activities with respect to the property and that a brokerage commission would be expected from the sale. This meeting

was discussed by Vannan with Howard B. Schneidewind and a clause was inserted in the agreement dated October 11, 1961 reading: "And the said purchaser hereby agrees to pay to any commissions that may be due on purchase price of one hundred forty-five thousand ($145,000.00) dollars."

On October 30, 1961 Fitt and Decker saw Howard B. Schneidewind at his home. They told him that they had heard the property had been purchased by Schneidewind and that if this was so, they expected a commission. Howard B. Schneidewind denied that Schneidewind purchased the property and told Decker that he "would not let him down." Following this meeting, and upon learning that the property had been purchased by Schneidewind, Decker ...


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