Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Baker v. Dennis Brown Realty, Inc. case brief

Baker v. Dennis Brown Realty, Inc. case brief summary
433 A.2d 1271 (1981)

Defendant real estate agent appealed a judgment of the Concord District Court (New Hampshire), which, after a jury trial, awarded damages to plaintiff potential purchaser on her action for intentional interference with a prospective contractual relationship.

The potential purchaser made an offer on a home. The seller's agent, who would have split the commission with the prospective purchaser's agent, later showed the house to another couple, who offered a few hundred dollars more for it. Because they did not have an agent, the agent would receive the full commission if their offer was accepted. Without informing the potential purchaser of the latter offer, the agent presented both offers to the seller, who accepted the higher one. In challenging the judgment finding him liable for intentional interference with a prospective contractual relationship, the agent claimed that N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 506:1, which prohibited actions relating to the sale of land unless there was a written contract, precluded recovery.


  • The court affirmed the judgment, finding § 506:1 inapplicable because it dealt with contracts, whereas a prospective interference with contractual relationship claim was a tort action. 
  • Because there was no trial record, the court refused to disturb the finding that the agent's actions were not privileged. 
  • However, the court found that some of the damages were speculative and thus vacated them.
The court vacated a portion of the damages awarded to the potential purchaser but otherwise affirmed the judgment in her favor.

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