ANNAPOLIS – Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals ruled Tuesday that a real estate broker, who claimed he was cheated out of a $175,000 commission by the owners of an office complex in Prince George’s County, deserves a trial.
The appellate court ruled that Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Nelson W. Rupp Jr. erred in December 1997 when he said there wasn’t enough evidence to try the case, which pits broker William J. Miller against the Allen Edwards Co.
“Miller wants his commission. He feels he’s entitled to it,” said his lawyer, James S. Bubar.
The case stems back to 1992, when Miller said he was contracted by Allen Edwards to help the company sell 12 acres of an office park called Largo Park to Kaiser Permanente. Miller said he believed he would be paid a 5 percent commission on the $3.5 million sale, or $175,000, court records state.
Although Miller never obtained a formal written contract, he said the agreement was implied in discussions and letters he exchanged with the Allen Edwards Co. Miller had no reason to ask for anything more because of his nearly 40-year relationship with the company’s owners, said Bubar.
But David A. Wilson, attorney for Allen Edwards, said although the men did talk and letters were exchanged, there was no written or oral agreement that Miller would broker the deal. He did not lead Kaiser to Allen Edwards, Wilson said.
“Our view all along has been that there is no case,” Wilson said. “And we’ve done everything we can to resist Miller’s claims.”
According to the appellate court, however, the issue deserves exploration: If Miller brokered the sale, then he’s legally entitled to a commission.
The court said it was necessary for a judge or jury to hear witnesses to determine the validity of the dispute – effectively ruling the Circuit Court’s dismissal of the case as premature. -30-