Lewis Brisbois Team Wins Appellate Decision in Brokerage Suit
San Diego Appellate Partners Jeff Miller and Lann McIntyre and San Francisco Appellate Partner Brian Slome recently persuaded the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One in San Diego to affirm a trial court’s judgment entered after a unanimous jury found a real estate broker wasn’t liable for its agent’s theft of client funds.
The brokerage was sued after its agent allegedly stole money from the escrow opened when the plaintiffs sold their home, but a jury returned a unanimous verdict finding that the defendant’s agent acted outside the scope of his authority when he stole the money.
The plaintiffs asked the Court of Appeal to create a strict liability rule for real estate brokers whose agents commit intentional torts. Alternatively, the plaintiffs argued that the jury’s verdict wasn’t supported by substantial evidence.
We persuaded the Court of Appeal to reject both arguments. The appellate court found that a jury should determine whether a real estate agent’s acts were committed within the course and scope of his or her authority and that the jury’s verdict was supported by substantial evidence.