On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. L-929-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 17, 2007
Before Judges Lihotz and Simonelli.
Plaintiff sought damages against defendants for breach of an alleged implied contract to enter into a partnership to purchase property located at 85 Park Avenue, Glen Ridge (the Property) for a condominium development, and quantum meruit damages "for services rendered in furtherance of the real estate venture." He appeals from the order of December 8, 2006, denying his motion for reconsideration of the order of October 20, 2006, granting summary judgment to defendants, dismissing the Complaint with prejudice. We affirm.
The following facts are from the record submitted by the parties in support of and in opposition to the summary judgment motion, viewed in a light most favorable to plaintiff. Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 142 N.J. 520, 523 (1995).
Since 1986, plaintiff has engaged full-time in an accounting practice and a real estate management business. Plaintiff admitted neither he nor his business is a licensed real estate agent or broker.
Defendants Richard Miller, Mark Villamar and Michael Richman are the members of defendant Pegasus Group, L.L.C., a real estate appraisal and consulting business. Defendant Richard Polton is a real estate developer, appraiser and member of defendant Value Research Group, L.L.C.
Plaintiff became aware the Property was for sale and contacted the listing broker on or about March 6, 2003, to make arrangements to view it. Because plaintiff knew he could not pursue the development project on his own, he asked Polton if Polton and his father would be interested in participating. Polton said he liked the project, his father probably would not be interested, but "he could reach out to some fellas that he did business with in the past in Hoboken, and they may be interested." Regarding how they would be included in the project, plaintiff testified at his deposition:
Well, that's the next thing I brought up to [Polton]. I said, well, how would we work a deal, and he said I know these individuals, we would participate in the deal some way, they may give us a finder's fee, they may allow us to participate with our own money, let me feel them out first and see if they're interested and we'll talk about particulars later, basically.
Actually, the comment was that they would probably give us a finder's fee, we can roll that into some sort of participation and allow us to invest our own money as well.
Plaintiff understood the "fellas" Polton referred to were Miller, Richman and Villamar of the Pegasus Group. Plaintiff admitted Polton was not part of the Pegasus Group and did not represent he was part of that group.
On June 17, 2003, plaintiff met Miller, Richman and Villamar for the first time and, together with Polton, they visited the Property. While at the Property, they met Peter Rasmusson, a real estate agent, who asked, "Are you guys one group?" Miller, who plaintiff assumed was acting on behalf of the Pegasus Group, responded, "Yes, we're all together." It is this exchange upon which plaintiff concluded he had an agreement with the Pegasus Group, Miller, Villamar, Richman and Polton, the terms of which were to view the Property, purchase it as a group, and develop it together as equal partners each holding a twenty percent interest. Plaintiff "anticipated the [partnership] would buy the building, and [he] would be a part of that entity."
On January 23, 2004, plaintiff was invited to the Pegasus Group's offices to look at initial renderings of the project and discuss selecting a land use attorney. Plaintiff asked about his interest and participation in the project and "asserted to [the Pegasus Group] directly in their office that [he] wanted to be an equal partner and have equal participation, that [he] brought them the deal, and [he was] entitled to the same deal [Polton] gets and the same deal the Pegasus Group [had]." Plaintiff admitted, however, Miller "avoid[ed] all direct questions about [plaintiff's] interest," and did not answer plaintiff's questions, leading plaintiff to believe: that there might be a problem. Because when they started speaking in Yiddish to each other, joking, I thought I might be on the outs or have a problem.
Plaintiff admitted Miller never said they would purchase the Property together as a group or indicated "what [the] percentages would be and how the deal would be struck." Plaintiff also admitted the following: there was no agreement about how much money he would invest; no one ever asked him for any investment money; no one, except Polton, ever told him he was going to be an equal partner; Villamar ...