Civil District Court Judge Bruno listened to both attorneys then made some notes and concluded “I find Louisiana Commercial Realty testimony credible and find the defendant, James Ramsey, tried to conceal the sale of property from the listing agent.” The controversy occurred after seller Ramsey hired the listing agent but then secretly sold the 10 acre property on Read Road without disclosing it to the listing broker they hired.
The lawsuit is compounded by the fact that the sale was hidden for years so a hearing was required to first address how much time a person has to file a lawsuit and whether or not anyone knew about the wrongdoing. Normally 10 years is the time period allowed to file a lawsuit but if it concerns lost commissions the time period is shortened to 3 years. It’s called prescription but not the kind a doctor gives you. It’s the process of making claim to something. In this case, the seller hid the sale for longer than 3 years and claims the time allowed to file suit had expired.
The problem arises in commercial real estate when a buyer and seller collude to avoid paying an agent’s commission. Since property sale information doesn’t always find its way into the city assessor website, it can be years before a property sale can be discovered-if the buyer and seller hide the transaction. After hearing all the testimony, Judge Bruno ruled that seller Ramsey did conceal the sale of the 10 acre property for $1,500,000 during the listing period. The judge also ruled that Louisiana Commercial Realty exercised reasonable efforts and had discussions with Ramsey during the listing period. Judge Bruno ruled that the 3 year deadline to bring suit did not apply since the seller misled the listing agent.
The listing broker at the time, Robert Hand, explains:
“This is a victory for the commercial real estate industry which is vastly different from residential and also different in New Orleans than other cities because often the listing agent will spend years marketing a property before it sells. The commercial real estate industry depends on sellers being honest with us because we invest our time and pay for all the advertising up front and take the risk of working on property for years before something happens. I felt it the right thing to do to bring this case before the court and stand up for the commercial real estate industry in New Orleans and the entrepreneurial commercial property agents trying to put properties back into commerce and make this city a better place to live.”