Jacobs v. Locatelli

Court Allows Broker to Pursue a Claim Against Non-Signatories to a Listing Agreement  


In Jacobs v. Locatelli, a California appellate court allowed a broker to present evidence to support her claim that the person with whom she contracted to list the property on behalf of other parties was appropriate.  In Jacobs, plaintiff, a real estate agent, entered into an exclusive listing for a parcel of real property.  The listing agreement provided that the property owner was Locatelli, Trustee of the Locatelli Trust.  Plaintiff dealt solely with Locatelli, who represented that he was the agent for five (5) other owners.  Locatelli signed the agreement, but the signature lines for the five other people were left blank.  According to plaintiff, although the other owners did not sign the agreement, they were aware of the listing agreement.  After plaintiff procured a buyer, defendant sabotaged the sale.  Plaintiff sued defendant and the other owners for breach of contract and related causes of action.  The other owners demurred, arguing that because they had not signed the agreement, the complaint was barred by the Statute of Frauds.  The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend.  The appellate court reversed holding that the trial court erred.  The court held that the plaintiff’s allegation that defendant signed on behalf of the other owners who formed a joint venture was sufficient to satisfy the Statute of Frauds.  The appellate court held that the trial court should have allowed the case to proceed and that Jacobs could present extrinsic evidence of the manner in which Locatelli signed the agreement.  The court further held that the Parol Evidence Rule did not bar plaintiff’s claims. 

Shannon B. Jones, Partner sbj@sbj-law.com