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THOMAS S. CHRISTO AND BLANCHE GREENBERGER v. BRITTANY (03/04/83)

filed: March 4, 1983.

THOMAS S. CHRISTO AND BLANCHE GREENBERGER, APPELLANTS
v.
BRITTANY, INC., V. ANTOINETTE B. TCHIRKOW, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF EDGAR G. TCHIRKOW, DECEASED; AND DRUSILLA M. GOLL AND WILLIAM A. RENNEKAMP, EXECUTORS OF THE ESTATE OF PHOEBE M. RENNEKAMP, DECEASED FOR PHOEBE M. RENNEKAMP, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM A. RENNEKAMP, SR., DECEASED; TUSCANY, INC., BRITTANY, INC., AND MAPLE HEIGHTS CORPORATION, V. MAPLE HEIGHTS CORPORATION, V. TUSCANY, INC.



No. 545 Pittsburgh, 1981, No. 546 Pittsburgh, 1981, No. 547 Pittsburgh, 1981, No. 548 Pittsburgh, 1981, Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, Allegheny County, At G.D. Nos. 76-11970, 77-10711, 76-11969, 76-11968

COUNSEL

John E. Evans and James W. Daub, Pittsburgh, for appellants.

Scott E. Henderson and Maurice A. Nernberg, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellees.

Rowley, Beck and Montemuro, JJ.

Author: Montemuro

[ 312 Pa. Super. Page 256]

This is an appeal from the lower court's orders granting summary judgment in four consolidated cases in favor of defendants, owners of certain apartment buildings, and against plaintiffs, real estate brokers, claiming entitlement of brokerage fees.

The appellants herein, plaintiffs below, Thomas S. Christo and Blanche Greenberger [hereinafter Christo and Greenberger respectively] are real estate brokers in Allegheny County. The appellees herein, defendants below, include

[ 312 Pa. Super. Page 257]

Antoinette Tchirkow and Phoebe Rennekamp*fn1 [hereinafter Antoinette and Phoebe] who are shareholders, in varying proportions, of the three defendant corporations -- Brittany, Inc., Tuscany, Inc., and Maple Heights Corporation [hereinafter Brittany, Tuscany and Maple Heights respectively]. Each corporation was owner of one apartment building -- The Brittany, The Tuscany and the Normandy, respectively.

In September, 1975, following the death of Edgar Tchirkow (and many years after the death of William Rennekamp), Antoinette and Phoebe decided to put the buildings up for sale. Antoinette retained attorney Maurice Nernberg to advise her concerning the sale. Attorney, Frank Mast, was retained by William Rennekamp to assist and advise Phoebe concerning the sale.

In October, 1975, appellant Christo, a friend of the late Edgar Tchirkow, approached Antoinette inquiring about the purchase of the buildings. Christo asserted that he wished to purchase the buildings for himself. He was referred to Nernberg to whom he made an offer of $1,350,000.00 which was rejected. Nernberg then provided financial information regarding the building to Christo by letter. The letter ended with the following provision. "REQUESTED PRICES ARE NET -- SELLERS WILL PAY NO COMMISSIONS, NOTE: These documents are for private use only, and may not be shown other than for your use as a principal."

Christo subsequently made a second offer to purchase the buildings for $1,450,000.00; this, too, was rejected since no offer of less than $1,550,000.00 net to the owners would be considered.

At this point Christo began looking for a buyer who would pay the figure demanded by the owners. Christo contends that he did this at the behest of Mast. Specifically,

[ 312 Pa. Super. Page 258]

    he asserts that in December, 1975, he saw Mast at the Duquesne Club eating lunch and Mast said "Tom, get yourself an offer of fifteen-five for the package. You're going to make yourself a deal." The appellees dispute this assertion stating that all dealings with Christo were based on the assumption that he was acting for himself only, not as a broker for third parties. The issue is further clouded by contradictory statements of appellant Christo given during his depositions on August 3, 1976. For example:

Q. All right. Now, tell me again, Mr. Christo, what they stated with respect to your trying to get somebody to buy these building?

A. Well, they told me that it would have to be cash, there would be no strings attached to them, it would have to be net and thereafter, I listed the services of Mrs. Blanche Greenberger.

Q. Let's go back, Mr. Christo. Who told you this?

A. What do you mean, "Who told me this"?

Q. Well, you testified that you were told, I gather, to find a buyer. Is that correct?

A. I tried to find a buyer. They didn't try to find a buyer.

Q. Did they request that you do that?

A. No.

Q. They did not request it. You were just doing this on your own. Is that correct?

A. Sure.

Q. All right. N.T. p. 20

And also:

Q. Did you tell Mrs. Greenberger about who you were representing?

A. I told her the buildings were available. I didn't represent anybody. I knew they were available and there had to be an offer made for fifteen-five, $1,550,000. That would be ...


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