Agent

Office building owner sued for selling asset twice

Is $1.7 million in punitive damages too excessive?

Lionel Simon owns a paper supply company. He rents his office space. But he spotted a downtown office building that would be perfect for his business. It was a foreclosure property acquired by the lender bank. Real estate broker William Atha represented the seller. Duane King, vice president of the San Paolo Bank, negotiated for the seller. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. On June 12, King and Simon signed a letter of intent drafted by Atha, for a $1.1 million sale price with the sale closing to be before June 27. The buyer and seller agreed "to exclusively negotiate upon execution of this letter" and "to proceed to escrow and attempt to complete a transaction based upon the above conditions." Simon hired a real estate attorney, paying him a nonrefundable $5,000 retainer. Later, King insisted the sale close by June 21 so he could receive a bonus. Meanwhile, San Paolo Bank reached an agreement to sell the same building to Robert DeVogelaere for $1 million. Even after the bank op...