On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Docket No. L-4142-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted August 12, 2009
Before Judges Rodríguez and LeWinn.
Plaintiff Salvatore Carrano appeals from the September 23, 2008 order of the Law Division entering judgment in favor of defendants Louis Pompilio and Century 21 Louis Pompilio, Inc., following a jury trial. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
The pertinent factual background may be summarized as follows. In early 2004, plaintiff became employed as a real estate agent in the office of Century 21 Louis Pompilio, Inc., of which defendant Louis Pompilio (Pompilio) is the president and licensed broker.
On January 23, 2006, plaintiff entered into a listing agreement with Joseph and Josephine Caruso to sell a residential property they owned in Plainfield; the term of the agreement was for six months, expiring on July 23, 2006. At Mr. Caruso's insistence, the listing price was set at $459,900, despite plaintiff's recommendation that the listing price be set at $399,000. Caruso was a personal friend of Pompilio, and had known him for many years.
The house remained on the market for several months. Mr. Caruso was displeased that he did not receive his asking price for the property, and rejected a verbal offer of $380,000 as "insult[ing]."
On or about March 20, 2006, Pompilio asked Carrano to withdraw the January 23 listing agreement and to re-enter it into the Multiple Listing Service database in order to re-set its "days on the market" in an effort to stimulate interest in the property. Carrano thereupon created a "new" listing and drew up an amended listing agreement, dated March 23, 2006, which reduced the listing price to $424,900 and extended the term of the agreement to October 23, 2006.
Carrano offered to take the new listing agreement to the Carusos' residence for their signatures, but Pompilio said that he was going there and would take the agreement with him. Pompilio subsequently signed both Carusos' signatures to the agreement. Mr. Caruso testified that he gave Pompilio permission to sign the second listing agreement; however, his testimony was inconsistent on this point.
Plaintiff testified that "[t]ension was extremely high with [Mr. Caruso]." There was an "urgency" to sell the property because the Carusos had signed a contract to purchase another residence and were anxious to close on that.
In early August, when the Caruso property still had not been sold, plaintiff had a telephone conversation with Pompilio, which he described as follows:
[Pompilio] said, "Sal, we have a problem." And I said, "What, Lou?" He said, "[Mr. Caruso] says the listing is over or was over July 23rd."
And I said, "No, Lou, that can't be. I own him until October."
I had a listing agreement that expired in October. And I said to Lou on the phone, "Joe must be talking about the first listing agreement, not the second one. Do you remember when you told me to withdraw it and I ...