A newly amended lawsuit alleges Douglas Elliman’s Florida operation failed to supervise its agents, one of whom is accused of committing forgery and fraud.

Douglas Elliman’s Florida operation failed to supervise two agents in a dual-agency deal, one of whom is accused of committing acts of forgery and fraud that resulted in a condo in disrepair that ultimately sold for less than the original listing price, according to a newly amended lawsuit.

Homeowners Bernaldo and Constance Dancel filed an amended complaint in late July, with an additional claim for punitive damages added last week in their multiyear lawsuit against Douglas Elliman Florida and agents Chase Patterson and Dedric Copeland in Sunny Isles Beach, just north of Miami. Both agents served as listing agent for the property while Copeland also served as the original buyer’s agent.

The plaintiffs say they entered into an exclusive listing contract with the agents on May 21. The agreement — which gave Douglas Elliman the exclusive rights from May 21 to Nov. 21, 2016 — would pay Douglas Elliman a 6 percent commission with the agents each getting a cut, according to the complaint.

On July 8, all parties agreed to reduce the listing price from $3.6 million to $3.49 million, according to the complaint.

At that time, the listing agents said they had a buyer, who was also represented by Copeland, and the two sides agreed on a sale price of $3.35 million. Copeland was to act as the listing and buyer’s agent for the deal, with Patterson acting solely as a listing agent, the complaint states.

Prior to entering into a contract, the plaintiffs allegedly agreed to undertake $59,000 in repairs on the condo, as a condition of the sale. According to the complaint, Copeland said he could arrange for the contractors and directed the plaintiffs to pay him directly.

The repairs included mold remediation and mostly cosmetic upgrades, including, marble floor repair, minor interior design adjustments, replacement of kitchen appliances, cabinets, replacement of decorator finishes, painting and plastering.

The buyer was to put down a $100,000 deposit, which would act as insurance for the plaintiffs’ investment into the repairs, since the repairs were being made specifically for that buyer, the complaint states.

The plaintiffs say they found out later that the deposit wasn’t given on time,  but despite knowing this Copeland allowed the work to continue. Eventually, when the buyer did put the $100,000 deposit down, the check was made out to a limited liability corporation owned by Copeland and his family, according to the complaint.

“Defendant Copeland not only took the Plaintiff’s $59,000 to perform the repairs, but then took the despot of $100,000 from his other client and gave it to himself and his family’s company,” the complaint reads.

The two parties eventually agreed to extend the closing date because work wasn’t finished and a new contract was drawn up with the dates changed, according to the complaint. It was off that new contract that Copeland allegedly convinced Douglas Elliman to pay him an advanced commission.

When the next closing date neared, the plaintiffs said they realized the condo was still in total disrepair, none of the permits had been obtained and no real renovation work was being done. The closing did not occur and repairs went over the $100,000 mark.

According to the complaint, Patterson claims he tried to enter the unit multiple times to monitor the progress, but Copeland would not allow him to enter. Copeland instead insisted everything was fine and Patterson should sit back and collect his commission, the complaint states.

“The plaintiffs spent $59,000 for repairs that were never done, for a buyer whom required such repairs to be completed as a condition of closing,” the complaint reads. “There was no deposit being held by Douglas Elliman and the condominium was in a complete state of disrepair and could not be sold to a new buyer.”

Bernaldo Dancel said he reached out to Douglas Elliman’s Florida CEO Jay Parker. Parker allegedly made Dancel sign an agreement that Douglas Elliman did nothing wrong and then allegedly told the plaintiffs that Copeland would be fired once this listing was finally sold. Copeland would not take a commission from the sale, the plaintiffs were told, according to the complaint.

Eventually another buyer, again represented by Copeland, agreed to purchase the property for roughly $2.9 million. The second buyer eventually pulled out and alleged that he never actually signed any sales agreement and his signature was forged.

After the expiration of the exclusive listing agreement, Dancel found another brokerage and sold the property for significantly less money.

The complaint includes 15 counts. Among them are allegations of forgery, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and breaches of listing agreement and contract. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for each claim.

Douglas Elliman declined to comment for the story on the lawsuit itself, and whether it still has a relationship with Copeland. Copeland, according to public records, still has an active real estate license that states he is employed by Douglas Elliman.

Email Patrick Kearns

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