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Arthur Rubloff & Co. v. Comco Corp.

OPINION FILED AUGUST 17, 1978.

ARTHUR RUBLOFF & COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

COMCO CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. WILLIAM V. HOPF, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE BOYLE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Arthur Rubloff & Company, hereinafter "plaintiff," brought a contract action for a real estate leasing commission allegedly due from Comco Corporation, hereinafter "defendant." Both plaintiff and defendant moved for summary judgment on the pleadings. The trial court denied defendant's motion and granted plaintiff summary judgment and damages in the amount of $34,109.92. Defendant's motion for reconsideration or in the alternative to reduce the damage award was denied by the trial court. Defendant appeals from the entry of these orders.

In 1973, the plaintiff, through James Goodfriend, its vice-president of sales, actively engaged in obtaining office space in the Chicago area for its client, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, hereinafter "Metropolitan." On October 8, 1973, Goodfriend met with Joseph Suster, a vice-president and leasing manager for defendant, and explained that he had an undisclosed client which needed approximately 20,000 square feet of space. Suster informed Goodfriend that the largest amount of space the defendant currently had available was about 8,000 square feet at 416 East Roosevelt Road in Wheaton, Illinois (hereinafter the Wheaton building), but that the projected floor space for a planned but unconstructed building at 1400-1500 North Farnsworth Avenue in Aurora, Illinois (hereinafter the Aurora building), would approximate 60,000 square feet. At this time Goodfriend confided to Suster that his client was Metropolitan.

On October 11, 1973, Goodfriend brought Constantin Zikas, Metropolitan's leasing manager, to a meeting with Suster and Robert Pristo, president of defendant's corporation. This was defendant's first contact with Metropolitan. At this meeting, Metropolitan orally agreed to lease approximately 20,000 square feet in the Aurora building, which would not be ready until mid-1974. Metropolitan also orally agreed to lease temporarily about 8,000 square feet at the Wheaton building because it had an immediate need for additional office space.

It would unduly prolong this opinion to further set forth the continuum of negotiations which took place in good faith between the defendant and Metropolitan over a period of approximately eight months until a lease was signed for the Aurora building on May 31, 1974. The essence of this appeal revolves around the interpretation of a real estate leasing commission agreement contained in a letter Suster sent to Goodfriend dated October 25, 1973. This letter stated the terms of the agreement concerning plaintiff's commission as follows:

"Dear Mr. Goodfriend:

This letter will evidence agreement between Arthur Rubloff & Company and Comco Corporation regarding the payment of a real estate leasing commission covering the proposed transaction between Comco corporation as Lessor, and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, as Lessee.

We propose to lease approximately 3,800 square feet of office space to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company at 416 East Roosevelt Road, Wheaton, Illinois for approximately six months with no commission to be paid to Arthur Rubloff & Company.

At the expiration of the lease at 416 East Roosevelt Road, Wheaton, Illinois the Comco Corporation will then lease to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company approximately 18,000 square feet of office space in the six story office building to be built at Farnsworth Market square on Farnsworth Avenue in Aurora, Illinois.

We hereby agree as follows, with respect to this contemplated transaction:

1. Arthur Rubloff & Company is the sole broker, and as such, is entitled to a real estate leasing commission.

2. Commission shall be 7% of the annual first year's rental plus 2% of the balance of the rental term including options if, and when, exercised. The rental upon which the commission is based shall be the agreed upon rental as set forth in the lease document.

3. The commission shall be due and payable at the time Lessee takes possession of said space at the Farnsworth Avenue location Aurora, Illinois.

4. This agreement shall become null and void if a lease is not signed within 30 days from the date of this letter by ...


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