Jacobs v. Locatelli

Neither the statute of frauds nor the parol evidence rule precluded a real estate broker’s suit for her commission, as she could rely on extrinsic evidence to show that the one owner who signed her listing agreement did so as agent for the other owners.  The trial court erred in dismissing this suit by a real estate broker for her commission.  The listing agreement was signed by only one of six owners of the real property (and by him as trustee of his living trust).  However, the broker alleged that the owners were a joint venture and that the signer signed as agent for all the rest of the owners.  The statute of frauds did not preclude the suit because the broker alleged there was a written joint venture agreement among the owners, satisfying the Equal Dignities Rule and because under Sterling v. Taylor (2007) 40 Cal.4th 757 extrinsic evidence may be introduced to prove in what capacity the signing owner signed the listing agreement.  Furthermore, the parol evidence rule did not bar extrinsic evidence on this point because no term of the listing agreement clearly stated that the signer did not sign as the other owner’s agent.  Parol evidence is admissible to show that a contract that is silent on the capacity in which a party acts was signed by that party as agent for a principal.

California Court of Appeal, Sixth District (Rushing, P.J.); February 8, 2017; 2017 WL 510882

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