Announcements Southern California


REALTOR Expo in July

Steve Spile, along with Kathy Mehringer and Jeff Kahn, will be presenting a risk management program this coming Friday, July 11th at the University Center at College of the Canyons. This program is presented as part of the Santa Clarita Division of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors Annual Expo.

The Program is entitled “Staying on the Cutting Edge of Real Estate.” Topics will include information on the New CAR Residential Purchase Agreement, as well as current risk management concerns for real estate professionals.

Time and Location: Friday, July 11, 2014 from 8:00am to 12:00pm at the University Center at College of the Canyons. RSVP at [email protected] or 661-299-2930.

REALTOR Expo in June

Steve, together with Jeff Kahn, Kathy Mehringer and Olga Moretti present quarterly Broker Owner Manager Meetings and various Agent Risk Management meetings. They are scheduled to appear at the Southland Regional Association of Realtors Expo on June 13, 2013.

Spile, Leff & Goor, LLP Successfully Defends Escrow Company in Expensive Commission Dispute

Recently, a Los Angeles County Judge returned a defense verdict in favor of one of Spile, Leff & Goor, LLP’s escrow company clients. In that case, an entity purchased a large piece of vacant land for $6.5 million. Two of the entity’s principals were real estate brokers, and they represented the entity as the buyer’s broker. The seller issued written escrow instructions to pay the seller’s broker the entire $487,500 commission. The escrow instructions also included a term which stated that the escrow company was also able to pay the commission pursuant to a written agreement between buyer’s broker and seller’s broker. The seller’s broker attempted to negotiate a fee split with the buyer’s broker wherein the seller’s broker would get a larger share, however buyer’s broker refused to accept any less than half. Despite this term in the escrow instructions, no agreement was ever come to and escrow closed. When escrow closed, the buyer’s broker instructed escrow to split the commission evenly between the seller’s broker and the buyer’s broker. The seller’s broker instructed escrow to release the funds to it. The escrow company reviewed the escrow instructions and determined that in order to abide by the instructions, the escrow company would have to release the money to seller’s broker. The escrow company released the money to seller’s broker, and buyer’s broker sued both the seller’s broker and the escrow company.

The plaintiff, buyer’s broker, argued that an oral agreement between the buyer’s broker and seller’s broker existed and was sufficient to establish that the commission should have been split evenly. Further, the plaintiff argued that the escrow company, when finding out about the dispute between the brokers, should not have released the money. As such, the plaintiff claimed that both the escrow company and the seller’s broker were liable for half of the commission including interest. Despite multiple attempts to settle by the seller’s broker, the plaintiff steadfastly refused to accept any less than half of the commission.

At trial, Andrew Leff argued on behalf of our escrow company client, that none of the terms of the escrow instructions required escrow to abide by any instructions of the buyer’s broker. Further, the escrow company strictly complied with the escrow instructions, and thus could not be held liable for any damages resulting from such compliance. Both the escrow company and the plaintiff produced expert testimony regarding an escrow company’s standard of care.

After a three-week trial, the judge found in favor of both the escrow company and the seller’s broker on all claims alleged against them by plaintiff. The judge agreed with all of the escrow company’s arguments and found the plaintiff’s expert to not be credible. Andy Leff tried the entire case, including defeating a subsequent motion for new trial filed by the plaintiff. Additionally, and pursuant to indemnity agreements, Andy Leff has brought a new action for indemnity against the buyer, seeking the recovery of attorneys’ fees for our client.

Jeff Kahn to Join Spile, Leff & Goor, LLP

We are thrilled to announce that Jeff Kahn has joined our firm to provide broker coaching, risk management and early claims intervention services to our clients. In addition to these efforts, Jeff will be contributing to our new affiliation with Shannon Jones Law Group---California Real Estate Legal Alliance (“CRELA”). All of these developments are intended to provide our clients with a talented team of attorneys and a wealth of resources to effectively meet their needs.

A quick synopsis of Jeff’s CV:

• Jeff has been an Attorney and a Real Estate Broker for over 30 years.

• Jeff has served as General Manager for two prominent real estate brokerages since 1986, handling every facet of their businesses.

• Jeff has served for many years as a director of the California Association of Realtors (“C.A.R”), including chairing and serving on a number of key committees such as Standard Forms, Multiple Listing Services, Realtor Consumer Protection and the task forces responsible for drafting the Residential Purchase Agreement and Residential Listing Agreement.

• Jeff has served as a director of California Real Estate Technology Services (“CARETS”) for 2 years.

• Jeff has served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for Southland Regional Association of Realtors (“SRAR”). In his more than 30 years serving SRAR, Jeff has Chaired the Finance Committee, Bylaws Committee and several other task forces including the task force to revise the SRAR Short Sale Guidelines. Jeff is currently on the Ethics and Arbitration Committee, Professional Standards Committee, Risk Management Committee as well as an Instructor for SRAR’s CAR Residential Purchase Agreement.

With all these qualifications, we are sure you share our excitement to have Jeff on our team!