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How the Trajectory of a Florida Breach of Contract Case Was Altered by an Appellate Reversal of a Summary Judgment in a Separate Case

There can be many different ways to win your commercial litigation case. It could be a factual discovery, a procedural rules violation by the other side or a decades-old precedential ruling from a higher court. Sometimes, the key to success may even lay in the outcome of a separate case that is making its way through the courts at the same general time as yours. Such was the case for an assignee of two purchase and sale contracts. This recent outcome highlights the importance of identifying (and utilizing) all of the things that can influence your case favorably. To make sure you have the effective legal representation that your business’ commercial litigation case requires, be sure you have an experienced South Florida commercial litigation attorney on your side.

In the case mentioned above, the underlying agreements were two contracts for the purchase of real estate. The contracts called for the payment of a certain sum in commissions to a broker after the sale transaction closed. Along the way, though, the purchaser assigned certain of its rights and responsibilities to a different entity, and it was the assignee that closed on the sale of the property. While the purchaser assigned the purchase and sale agreements, it didn’t assign the broker compensation contracts.

After the closing, no one paid the broker. In the broker’s breach of contract case, it named both the purchaser and the assignee as defendants, asserting that it was entitled to damages under both the purchase and sale agreements and the broker compensation agreements. Subsequently, the purchaser filed a cross-claim against the assignee for the assignee’s failure to pay the broker.

The broker obtained a summary judgment against both entities, but the appeals court partially reversed that. The broker was not entitled to a judgment under the purchase and sale agreements because it was not a party to those agreements. (The only way a non-party can be entitled to a judgment and an award of damages is if it proves that it was an intended third-party beneficiary and that there was breach of that third-party beneficiary contract.) In this case, the broker had not showed those required things.

That reversal proved to be particularly helpful to the assignee. The purchaser had obtained a summary judgment against the assignee by arguing that the obligation to pay the broker’s commissions had been set by the summary judgment that the broker had already won. When the appeals court partially reversed the summary judgment the trial court awarded the broker, that reversal also unraveled the foundation of the purchaser’s argument for its own summary judgment against the assignee.

The court explained that, whenever a summary judgment in a case is premised upon a judgment in a separate case and that other judgment gets reversed, then the court is obliged to reverse the immediate summary judgment as well.

What can you take from this? Take away that many different things can be the key to a successful outcome, or a partial victory, in your breach of contract case. With the right legal representation, you can discover and utilize each of these things to your maximum advantage. For this kind of effective legal counsel, reach out to the diligent South Florida commercial litigation attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman, who have been providing helpful advice and useful litigation strategies to our clients for many years.

Contact us online or by calling (954) 237-1777 to schedule your consultation and find out how this firm can help you.

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