Refusing to Pay Real Estate Broker Commission Upon Failure to Prove Who Designed the House

In Houlihan/Lawrence, Inc. v. Duval (228 AD2d 560 [2d Dept 1996]), the plaintiff, a real estate broker, represented to the defendant that the residence he was purchasing was designed by a renowned architect. The defendant purchaser refused to pay the commission because, upon resale, he allegedly realized a reduced sale price because of the real estate broker's inability to prove the representations about the design of the house. The Supreme Court had dismissed the counterclaim for negligent misrepresentation because the parties were not in privity and did not have any kind of special relationship necessary for the imposition of liability. (Id., at 561.)