Malibu dual agent transaction could set new precedent

  • Malibu agent Chris Cortazzo and Coldwell Banker are being sued for violating fiduciary duty to the buyer, Hiroshi Horiike.
  • A jury originally found in favor of Cortazzo and the broker, but an appeals court found them in violation. The case is pending.
  • Cortazzo allegedly misinformed Horiike of the exact square footage of the home he was purchasing as a foreign cash buyer.

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Hiroshi Horiike, a retired Chinese millionaire, bought a Malibu house in 2007 for $12.25 million cash. The advertised square footage was 15,000 square feet, but the actual square footage was under 9,500. Horiike sued the listing agent, Chris Cortazzo, and Coldwell Banker, the broker, for violating fiduciary duties. A jury found that neither Cortazzo or Coldwell Banker were at fault. Horiike appealed the jury's findings and prevailed. Justices wrote, "A trier of fact could conclude that although Cortazzo did not intentionally conceal the information, Cortazzo breached his fiduciary duty by failing to communicate all of the material information he knew about the square footage." Earlier this year, the court determined the listing agent had the same fiduciary duty as the broker because the broker was also represented by the buyer's agent. Did the agent commit fraud, or did the broker violate fiduciary duty to Horiike? "Once upon a time, everybody represented the seller,"...