Carmack v. Beltway Dev. Co

In Carmack v. Beltway Dev. Co., 701 S.W.2d 37 (Tex. App.--Dallas 1985, no writ), the parties entered into a written listing agreement whereby Beltway would secure a tenant to lease property owned by Carmack in exchange for a six percent commission, one-half to be paid at execution of the lease and one-half one year thereafter. However, although reciting the address of the property, a legal description was not attached to the listing agreement. After Beltway secured a tenant, the agreement was modified to include additional property leased by the tenant, and Carmack paid Beltway one-half of the commission. The tenant occupied the property for almost one year when the property was destroyed by fire, after which Carmack terminated the lease and refused to pay the other one-half of the commission to Beltway. Carmack, 701 S.W.2d at 38--39. Beltway sued for its commission, and Carmack asserted a statute of frauds defense based on the lack of a legal description. Id. at 38. The court of appeals held that Beltway showed that it was entitled to assert the partial performance exception to the statute of frauds since it had fully performed under the agreement by securing the tenant, that it had suffered a substantial detriment by not being fully compensated for its services, that it had no adequate remedy at law, and that Carmack received the unearned benefit of receiving substantial rental income as a result of Beltway's services. Id. at 40--41. The court reasoned that Carmack's "retention of the benefits of the commission agreement without payment of the agreed consideration amounts to a virtual fraud, which justifies enforcement of the commission agreement under the doctrine of part-performance." Id. at 41.