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Uhar v. Mohan Jacob et al

January 12, 2012

UHAR & COMPANY, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MOHAN JACOB ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Court Judge

: Re Document No.: 28

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This case comes before the court on the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff, Uhar & Company, Inc. ("Uhar") is a commercial real estate broker that operates in the District of Columbia. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants, Mohan Jacob ("Jacob") and Manna LLC, committed a breach of contract by failing to pay the plaintiff certain commissions pursuant to a brokerage agreement. The defendants oppose the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on three grounds. First, they contend that Manna LLC was not a party to the brokerage agreement. Second, they argue that the D.C. Statute of Frauds bars the plaintiff's claim. Third, they maintain that they do not owe the plaintiff any brokerage commissions because the plaintiff did not actually perform any brokerage services.

Because Jacob entered into the brokerage agreement as Manna LLC's agent, the court concludes that Manna LLC is a party to the brokerage agreement. Further, because the defendants signed a written memorandum that memorializes the brokerage agreement's essential terms, the court concludes that the D.C. Statute of Frauds does not bar the plaintiff's claim. With respect to these two issues, the court grants in part the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. Because a genuine dispute of material fact exists with regard to the plaintiff's performance of brokerage services, however, the court denies in part the plaintiff's motion.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The plaintiff is a commercial real estate broker that operates in the District of Columbia. See Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Mot.") at 2. Manna LLC is a Virginia limited liability corporation; Jacob is its sole member. See id., Ex. 2 at 4. According to the plaintiff, Manna LLC is an entity through which Jacob operates as a commercial landlord in Washington, D.C. Id. at 2. The defendants own a parcel of commercial real estate located in Southwest D.C. Id.

The plaintiff claims it entered into a brokerage agreement with Jacob and Manna LLC in order to secure a tenant for the property. Id. Under this agreement, the plaintiff claims, the defendants agreed to pay Uhar 3% of the property's monthly rent in exchange for the plaintiff's successful effort to procure a tenant. Id.

Although the brokerage agreement does not exist in written form, its essential terms were memorialized in a lease agreement that was signed by Jacob and the property's tenant, Specialized Education of D.C., Inc. Pl.'s Mot. at 2. More specifically, Section 25.8 of the lease agreement states:

(a) Brokerage. Landlord [Manna LLC] and Tenant warrant to the other that neither of them has had any dealings with any broker or agent in connection with the lease transactions contemplated hereby except Uhar & Company, Inc. ("Landlord's Broker") and The Meyer Group, Ltd. ("Tenant's Broker"), who will be paid by Landlord in accordance with the terms of this Section 25.8. . . .

(c) Commissions to Landlord's Broker. Landlord hereby agrees to pay Landlord's Broker 3% of (i) each installment of Base Rent received with respect to the Initial Term (but not the Renewal Term), and (ii) any Termination Payment received in accordance with this Lease. Landlord shall remit these commission amounts to Landlord's Broker within 30 days of Landlord's receipt of funds, Landlord's obligation being only to pay when paid. Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 3.

The plaintiff commenced this action in September 2009, arguing that it is entitled to a brokerage commission pursuant to the brokerage agreement that is memorialized in section 25.8 of the lease agreement. See generally Compl. Later that month, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss. See generally Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mot."). In that motion, the defendants alleged that no written contract existed between the parties, and D.C.'s Statute of Frauds barred the plaintiff's claim. See id. The court rejected both arguments, instead holding that the lease agreement set forth the "essential terms" of the brokerage agreement and satisfied D.C.'s Statute of Frauds. Mem. Op. (Mar. 3, 2010) at 8-11.

The plaintiff now moves for summary judgment on its claim. See generally Pl.'s Mot. With this motion now ripe for adjudication, the court turns to the parties' ...


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