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HARRISON v. SOFFER ET AL. (04/13/72)

decided: April 13, 1972.

HARRISON
v.
SOFFER ET AL., APPELLANTS



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, April T., 1969, No. 2761, in case of Michael Harrison and E. M. Griswold, Jr., administrator of the estate of E. M. Griswold, deceased v. Harry Soffer, Donald Soffer, Mark E. Mason, Eugene Lebowitz and Edward J. Lewis, a partnership, trading as Don-Mark Realty.

COUNSEL

William H. Eckert, with him Milton W. Lamproplos, Robert W. Doty, Leonard J. Wingert, Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott, and Carson & Wingert, for appellants.

Walter T. McGough, with him John T. Tierney, III, Daniel H. Shapira, John C. Unkovic, and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellees.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman and Cercone, JJ. (Spaulding, J., absent). Opinion by Watkins, J. Concurring Opinion by Cercone, J.

Author: Watkins

[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 276]

This appeal is from the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County,

[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 277]

    which judgment was entered after a jury award in the amount of Three Hundred and Forty Thousand Dollars, ($340,000.00).

The facts in this case are as follows. Michael Harrison and E. M. Griswold, appellees, were partners in a consulting and finance business in the City of Pittsburgh. The appellants were the holders of an option on real estate in the State of Florida which they planned to develop. The appellants were in the business of developing real estate, having completed several very successful ventures in the Pittsburgh area. In order to accomplish their aims with the Florida property, they were in need of additional money. Harry Soffer, one of the appellants, lived in the same apartment house as Michael Harrison, one of the appellees, and had informal discussions with him regarding the Florida project. In the fall of 1967, the appellees and appellants entered into an informal oral agreement whereby the appellees would attempt to find the required financing for the project. There was a disagreement between the parties at the trial as to whether any amount of compensation had been agreed to in this oral agreement. The appellees made many contacts in an attempt to secure the required financing, without success. However, through Mr. Harrison's nephew, who lived in Texas, they were put in contact with a Bernard Kemp. Through this contact, the name of Joseph Boneparth of New York and Florida was given to the appellees as one with possible interest in such a project. The appellees then informed the appellants of his name, address and telephone number and asked them to contact him. The appellants did in fact contact Mr. Boneparth, who apparently brought in another gentleman by the name of Harry August who had contacts with the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. After many meetings and much negotiation, the appellants received from the

[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 278]

John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company a letter of commitment on the Florida project for the purchase and lease back of this property after listed improvements were accomplished. This letter of commitment was then taken by the appellants to secure the immediate financing necessary to satisfy the John Hancock conditions to the Chase-Manhattan Bank. The appellees, after making the referral of the appellants to Boneparth in March, 1968, sent to the appellants the following letter for signature by the appellants which formed the written contract by the parties.

"Michael Harrison -- E. M. Griswold

Consultants

Mergers -- Acquisitions -- Financing

401 Wood Street

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222

471-0904

"March 8, 1968

Michael Harrison --

E. M. Griswold --

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Gentlemen:

"I and my associate or associates, do hereby agree to use the services of Michael Harrison and E. M. Griswold, to interest an investor, that will invest with me in my project on Miami Beach, the sum of $12,000,000 or $15,000,000, or such lesser amount as I agree to accept, for an interest in the project in the amount of 25% or ...


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