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Can I sue a real estate broker, their agent and the listing agent in three separate cases at small claims court?

Oakland, CA |

I recently found out that my back yard doesn't belong to me! The listing showed photos of the house and the back yard; it was also described in the mls. After two years of having the property and caring for the back yard I discovered it was a separate lot. The house was a foreclosure and the lady who used to own it has passed away - the loan she took out was only for the house only, not the back yard. So, nobody owns this lot. To stop the city from putting it up for auction I have paid all the back taxes and will now have to wait a few years to try to get it through quiet title. I would not have brought the property without the back yard and if I don't get it back I will have a VERY close neighbor! I would like to sue all parties separately in small claims court, can I do this?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Why small claims court? You're limiting your damages. Did you have an attorney? Do you have title insurance? It really seems odd that this was not picked up.

If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email - Jgold@goldbenes.com

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Posted

Small claims because I'll be going up against Sotherby's. They've already said they have a 'team' of lawyers. I can't afford a lengthy court case. Title insurance did insure the lot, the lot that was sold - the house lot - they didn't insure the back yard because it was a separate lot. All I really want is for the brokers on both sides to give me the commission they made on a hash of a job. This should cover my costs to get the back yard. I'd like to sue to the my agent and her broker for breach of fiduciary duty and the listing agent for misrepresentation. Can I sue all three separately? or maybe the agent and her broker will be one case and the listing agent a separate case.

Posted

I'm assuming you are trying to bring separate lawsuits to stay within the jurisdiction of the small claims court. You might have to bring suit in a different court. Generally you cannot bring three separate lawsuits against three different defendants over the same incident. If you are curious as to why, research the term "res judicata."

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Posted

I thought that might be the case. I think I should be able to take my agent and broker to court together for a breach of fiduciary duty and the listing agent for misrepresentation of a property. So maybe two cases. One case with everyone would be better but the damages max out at $7500. I can't afford to go up against Sotherby's and a team of their lawyers, small claims seems like my best bet.

Leroy Brenardo Scott

Leroy Brenardo Scott

Posted

I don't like telling people to "go get a lawyer" because they probably already thought about that. But if you are worried about going up against their lawyers, you might need to get a lawyer of your own. For some kinds of claims, the court can make the loser pay the winner's attorney fees. So, if you really have a strong claim, a lawyer might be willing to represent you without charging you anything up front. Also, if you really have a strong claim, the other side might settle without going to trial.

Posted

You can't file three separate suits. But you probably have a good claim. Go talk to a real estate attorney in your area. You should be able to find one who will take the case on a contingency. Doing it yourself in small claims will end up with you losing out on some of your rights.

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