Stevenson v. Windermere Real EstateAnnotate this Case
Real estate purchasers Thomas and Vicki Stevenson appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment that dismissed their unjust enrichment claim against Windermere Capital Group (Windermere), broker to seller 323 Jefferson, LLC (Jefferson). The Stevensons desired to purchase a condominium from Jefferson, and the parties executed a Real Estate Purchase and Sale Agreement (REPSA) for that purpose. Pursuant to the REPSA, the Stevensons deposited $38,000 earnest money with Jefferson’s broker, Windermere. Upon the Stevensons' written authorization, Windermere transferred the funds to Jefferson. Jefferson then paid Windermere a partial commission pursuant to an Exclusive Seller Representation Agreement which obligated Jefferson to pay Windermere a commission whenever a ready, willing, and able purchaser was procured. Jefferson decided not to sell the condominium to the Stevensons and notified them that it was terminating the REPSA. The REPSA specified remedies upon default by either of the parties to the agreement. In the event that Jefferson failed to comply with any term of the agreement, the Stevensons were entitled to their deposit plus interest. Despite this unambiguous provision, Jefferson failed to return the deposit. The Stevensons filed suit against both Jefferson and Windermere. Their complaint alleged that Jefferson breached the REPSA and also advanced a claim of unjust enrichment against both Jefferson and Windermere. The Stevensons also asserted that the REPSA was unenforceable because it did not contain an adequate legal description. Jefferson settled with the Stevensons, agreeing to refund the Stevensons' earnest money, less the commission paid to Windermere. Windermere answered and cross-claimed against Jefferson, alleging two counts of breach of contract, two counts of unjust enrichment and one count of fraud. Windermere later moved for summary judgment as to the Stevensons’ unjust enrichment claim. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the district court properly exercised its discretion and affirmed the award of summary judgment to Windmere.