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Hillis v. Lake

658 N.E.2d 687 (1995)

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Hillis v. Lake

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

658 N.E.2d 687 (1995)

Facts

Duane Hillis, John Brady, and their real estate brokerage firm (the firm) (plaintiffs) sued their former client, Donald Lake (defendant), to obtain a commission for their services in negotiating a 1988 contract for the sale of Lake's commercial property. The contract required an inspection to validate Lake's good-faith belief that the property was free of hazardous material. The sale failed to close when the inspector found contaminants on the property. In 1989 Lake, this time without the firm's assistance, negotiated and closed on a second sales contract. Unlike the 1988 contract, the 1989 contract exposed Lake to so much risk that he was forced to repurchase the property when he could not remove its contaminants within the contractual timeframe. The trial court found that Lake bore responsibility for the first sale's failure and that therefore the firm was entitled to its commission. The appellate court reversed, and the firm appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Greaney, J.)

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